Dry eye and poor tear film quality has been linked to e-cigarette smoking in a male-only study conducted by the National Institute of Ophthalmic Sciences in Malaysia.
The study, published in Optometry and Vision Science, was designed to fill a knowledge-gap on the correlation between smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, and eye health.
“Little is known about the effect of e-cigarettes on the eyes except for reported eye irritation among individuals who were exposed to e-cigarette vapors and e-liquids. This study aims to investigate the effect of vaping on ocular surface health of long-term vapers,” the authors said.
The researchers evaluated 21 male e-cigarette smokers, between the ages of 19 and 30 and with at least one year of continual vaping history. The control group was made up of 21 non-smokers, also male, with no smoking history.
All participants underwent measurements of the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), non-invasive tear breakup time, fluorescein breakup time, ocular surface staining, tear meniscus height, and the Schirmer test. The effect of voltage used during vaping was also evaluated against the measurements.
Results shows that vapers experienced moderate-to-severe eye dryness as indicated by the OSDI. Significant reductions of non-invasive tear breakup time, fluorescein breakup time, and tear meniscus height were noted in vapers, but the Schirmer test showed higher results compared with non-smokers.
The study also found that an increase in vaping voltage aggravated the dry eye symptoms and tear instability; a higher Schirmer test result was also noted as voltage increases.
The researchers noted the limitations of the study’s small sample size and male-only participants, concluding that further investigation on the effect of vaping on an ocular surface is needed.
Organisations including the American Optometric Association support more education on smoking and efforts to decrease the use of e-cigarettes.