Vaping is an alternative form of smoking that has grown in popularity with young adults. There is a mistaken assumption that vaping is not as dangerous or harmful as smoking tobacco or marijuana.

However, many of the same chemicals found in tobacco and marijuana can also be found in the “e-juice” used for vaping. Additionally, “e-juice” can contain other chemicals not found in tobacco or marijuana that could pose health risks.

Vaping involves heating up “e-juice” into vapor and then inhaling it. The vapor makes clouds of “smoke” much like regular smoking. Developing this habit could be a gateway to switching to tobacco or marijuana.

Over the past decade, eye care providers, ophthalmologists, and other researchers have studied the effects of vaping on the eyes. If you vape, it is important to understand and know the short-term and long-term side effects of vaping on your eyes.

Vaping can cause dry eye.

One short-term side effect is the development of dry eye. This is where the eyes do not produce sufficient moisture to keep the eyes wet. You may notice your eyes feel scratchy or itchy, are red, or hurt when you blink. You may also notice a sensitivity to light.

Dry eye is treatable with prescription eye drops to lubricate the eyes and keep them moist. However, this should be used as a temporary solution while working on quitting vaping.

Vaping can cause oxidative stress in the eyes.

This condition can occur when there is an imbalance in oxygen levels. The added stress in the eyes is not healthy. Over time, it can increase the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Vaping can increase the risks of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration tends to occur later in life. Vaping can increase the risk of this condition developing sooner in some people. The condition can either cause the retina to deteriorate (dry macular degeneration) or result in excess blood vessels growing under the retina (wet macular degeneration).

Vaping can increase the development of cataracts.

Almost everyone will develop cataracts at some point in their lifetime. Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens in the eye that reduces vision and leads to temporary blindness if left untreated.

Most people do not start to develop them until their late 60s or older. However, the development of cataracts can be sooner in people who vape regularly, as can happen with people who smoke.

Vaping can increase the development of glaucoma.

There are several different types of glaucoma that can develop, which typically occurs later in life. Yet again, vaping can increase the risk of glaucoma developing sooner. Glaucoma is another eye condition that reduces vision and, if left untreated, can lead to permanent blindness.

Red squirrel eyes, macro photo.

By taking steps to quit vaping now, while you are young, it is likely any damage you may have caused your eyes and your body could still be repaired.

For help addressing dry eye and other vision problems related to vaping or smoking, as well as referrals to resources that can help you stop vaping and smoking, or to learn about different laser vision correction surgeries, please feel free to contact Dougherty Laser Vision at (805) 987-5300 to schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist today! We have office locations in Westlake Village, Camarillo, Beverly Hills, Simi Valley, and Encino.