Everyone already knows that cigarettes are bad for health. This includes the eyes. For example, smoke is a risk factor for various diseases such as dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

A recent study made in Japan revealed that smoke may also cause death to cornea cells from both active and passive smokers. A research was recently published in the Journal Sientific Reports, linked to Nature magazine.

Learn more about the work that correlated cigarette and eyes, its results and next steps.


Cigarettes and eyes – the research


Scientists at Gifu Pharmaceutical University, in Japan, created cultures of cells from the epithelium of the human cornea and exposed part of them to an extract of cigarette smoke and PTA aerosol, which contained most of the ingredients inhaled by smokers.

After 24 hours, the number of dead cells in cultures exposed to smoke and aerosols was higher than compared to those that did not interact with the substances. Upon contact with cigarette components, the ferritin inside eye cells decomposes, releasing the stored iron.




Exposure to the components of cigarette smoke accumulates iron, which kills cornea epithelium cells. The same reaction was observed with the aerosol produced by heated tobacco products (PTA). Although different from electronic cigarettes, these also require an electronic device for use and do not always come with nicotine.

Generally, cigarette smoke does not cause permanent problems. However, continuous exposure can cause corneal injury such as leukoma and even lead to blindness.

Despite the important results of the study on cigarettes and eyes, more research is still needed, especially in humans, to confirm the findings.


Information from Einstein Agency.


Reviewed by Paulo Schor, ophthalmologist, associate professor and director of innovation of the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) and collaborator of the Faculty of Medicine of the Albert Einstein Hospital.


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