Posted by Divya Sathyanarayanan

Vaping-related lung disease has affected 530 people and claimed seven lives in the United States so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1. Vaping not only causes serious health problems, but also negatively impacts eye health and accelerates vision problems. We interviewed Rohit Varma, MD, MPH and founding director at CHA HPMC’s Southern California Eye Institute (SCEI) to understand how vaping affects eye health.

What concerns do you have about vaping?

Vaping or the use of e-cigarettes is just as dangerous to the eyes as cigarettes. The American Optometric Association warns that people who smoke are four times more likely to develop vision problems like macular degeneration2. Vaping exposes its users to many of the same chemicals associated with smoking cigarettes, including formaldehyde, nicotine, and diacetyl, which is present in the flavoring. Therefore, the risk of vision problems associated with cigarette smokers is likely extended to people who vape.

What are the health risks or potential harm to the eye?

Many of the chemicals in both cigarette and vaping have been linked to a range of additional vision health risks, including an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and thyroid eye disease as well as interfering with the production of tears causing dry eye syndrome, blurred vision, color vision changes, and an increased risk of contact lens-related corneal ulcers.

Because vaping exposes users to same chemicals as smoking, it is important to understand all the negative effects to protect your overall health. So think twice before you turn to e-cigarettes.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping. Retrieved from Accessed [September 24, 2019]
2American Optometric Association, Smoking, Vaping, and Your Eyes Fact Sheet. Retrieved from Accessed [September 24, 2019]

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