Can Vaping Affect My Vision? By GW Eye Associates on June 23, 2023

a vape and filled vape pod in the palm of a hand

There are still many unanswered questions as to whether vaping negatively impacts your heart, lungs, and vision in the same ways that cigarettes do. At GW Eye Associates in La Jolla and Del MarCA, patients sometimes ask our doctors, “Can vaping affect my vision?” 

The answer is yes. Vaping can affect your vision, and in a number of ways. Here, you’ll learn more. For a thorough examination of your eye health, contact our offices in Del Mar or La Jolla, CA, today to schedule an appointment.  

What’s So Bad About Vaping?

Vapes may not contain tobacco, but most contain nicotine, and many have been found to contain harmful agents like heavy metals and artificial chemicals. In terms of your vision, nicotine, diacetyl, and formaldehyde are three of the most damaging common ingredients.


Nicotine causes the blood vessels of the eye to constrict. This can lead to a buildup of pressure, leakage, retinal damage, and corneal inflammation.


Diacetyl is a popular vape flavoring additive. When inhaled and exhaled, it can irritate the eyes, leading to acute or chronic dry eye.


Mostly known as an embalming agent, formaldehyde is found in high concentrations in many vapes. It is highly irritating and can cause corneal damage and vision loss.

Long-Term Effects of Vaping on Vision

Nicotine and other chemicals frequently found in vapes are linked to oxidative stress in the eye, or an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can increase your risk of:

  • Cataracts – A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens. While most are age-related, their development can be quickened by smoking or vaping.
  • Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a progressive disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, mostly due to eye pressure issues. Vaping and smoking can increase eye pressure and hasten the advance of the disease.
  • Macular Degeneration – The macula is responsible for central vision. The chemicals in cigarettes and vapes can be highly damaging to the retina when introduced to the bloodstream.

Our La Jolla and Del Mar eye care practice can help you manage these conditions, but we encourage you to quit your vaping habit to decrease your risk of them developing in the first place.

Data Supports the Link Between Vision Problems and Vaping

A study from the American Journal of Ophthalmology included data from more than 1 million American adults. The study found that those who currently vaped had a 34% higher risk of visual impairment compared to those who never vaped. Former vapers were 14% more likely to experience visual impairment.

The Importance of Eye Exams if You Vape

Many of the most dangerous chronic eye conditions are difficult to detect in their early stages. It’s likely you won’t notice symptoms until the disease has progressed and already caused damage.

If you smoke or vape, regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining your eyesight. An eye doctor can identify early warning signs and develop a treatment plan to slow the progression of the condition, preserving your vision for longer.

Schedule an Eye Exam Today

We’re here to help you see life clearly, and regular vision checkups can make all the difference. If you smoke or vape, you are at higher risk for many eye conditions. Contact our offices in Del Mar or La Jolla, CA, serving greater San Diego, for a thorough examination of your ocular health. 

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GW Eye Associates

Our team at GW Eye Associates in La Jolla and Del Mar can provide a wide range of high-quality eye care services. Dr. Gordon G. Wong and Dr. Wildon C. Wong have over 45 years of combined experience and belong to several prestigious organizations, including:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • American Optometric Association

For more information about our services, contact our office online or call us at (858) 454-4699 today.

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