December 03, 2019
1 min read

Use of electronic cigarettes causes dry eye, poor tear film quality

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Electronic cigarette smokers experience moderate to severe dry eye and poorer tear film quality in comparison to nonsmokers, according to a study performed by the National Institute of Ophthalmic Sciences Optometry Clinic in Malaysia.

“There are very limited primary resources on the impact that vaping might have on eyes, which are organs with the most exposure when the electronic cigarette is in use,” Nur Amalina Md Isa, MOptom, BOptom, of the National Institute of Ophthalmic Sciences in Selangor, Malaysia, and colleagues wrote.

The researchers evaluated 21 electronic cigarette smokers who were male, between the ages of 19 and 30 and with at least 1 year of continual vaping history. The control group in this study comprised 21 nonsmokers who were male, with no smoking history.

Findings showed that the electronic cigarette smokers experienced moderate to severe eye dryness, indicated by Ocular Surface Disease Index score. There was a significant disturbance in tear film stability indicated by breakup time for noninvasive tear and fluorescein tests. Both the decrease in tear film stability and likeliness of dry eye in electronic cigarette smokers shows that the adverse effects of electronic cigarette use on the eyes is similar to that of tobacco cigarettes.

Further investigation on the effect of vaping on an ocular surface is needed due to limitations in this study through small sample size and male-only subjects, the researchers said.

The American Optometric Association discussed the dangers of electronic cigarettes on its website and said the group supports more education on smoking and efforts to decrease the use of e-cigarettes.

“Doctors of optometry and staff need to continue thinking beyond the eye when it comes to tobacco use,” Dan Bintz, OD, AOA health promotions committee member, said on the website. “That includes reinforcing patient education of smoking’s negative health consequences, as well as directing smokers to tobacco cessation resources – and e-cigarettes are not the answer.” – by Erin T. Welsh

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.