Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Smoking may lead to age related cataracts

(RxWiki News) It’s no new news that smoking can result in poor health conditions. And here’s another one to add to the ever growing list: cataracts.

A recent study looked at rates of age-related cataracts as a result of smoking. Results found that smoking did play a role in nuclear cataracts especially.

"Call: 1-800-Quit-Now."

Juan Ye, MD, from the Department of Ophthalmology at Zhejiang’s 2nd affiliated University Hospital in China, led investigations into smoking and cataract risk.

Dr. Ye said, “Although cataracts can be removed surgically to restore sight, many people remain blind from cataracts due to inadequate surgical services and high surgery expenses.”

For the study, 21 studies were selected from a computer database that provided information on cataracts and smoking across five continents.

When clouding of the eye’s natural lens occurs, it’s called a cataract.

Researchers looked for smoking links to three categories of age-related cataracts:

  • Cortical cataracts, which is clouding of the cortex
  • Nuclear cataracts, which is clouding of the central zone of the lens
  • Posterior subscapsular cataracts, which is clouding of the back of the lens

Results showed that smoking increased the risk of age-related cataracts by about 40 percent to 57 percent. With nuclear cataracts, the risk was even higher with smoking increasing the risk by about 66 percent.

Cortical cataracts did not appear to be associated with smoking habits.

Dr. Ye said, “Identifying modifiable risk factors for cataracts may help establish preventive measures and reduce the financial as well as clinical burden caused by the disease.”

Authors of the study recommended further research to understand exactly how and why smoking effects cataract formation.

This study was published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Funding for this study was provided by Zhejiang province Key Lab Fund of China, The Natural Science Foundation of China, and The National Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province of China.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
October 17, 2012