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Quitting Smoking May Lower Your Risk Of Developing Cataracts

January 10, 2014

Studies show that smoking cessation can decrease cataract risks.

Last week, in honor of the New Year, we spoke about the benefits of making vision-related New Year’s resolutions in order to improve your overall eye health. We explained how making simple steps such as cleaning out your contact lens case or getting regular glaucoma checks could go a long way towards stronger, healthier vision in your senior years. However, there is one other common New Year’s resolution that may have an unexpectedly positive impact on your eyes―quitting smoking.

The dangers of smoking and the negative health impacts that smoking can have are no secret. In fact, they are plastered right there on the side of every cigarette carton or at the bottom of every cigarette ad. However, millions of people continue to follow through with this bad habit each and every day.

However, if you are looking for one more reason to quit smoking in 2014, in addition to the many health and lifestyle benefits that it brings, we have one more for you―quitting smoking can help to decrease your risk of developing cataracts!

The Effects of Smoking on Cataracts

A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology revealed that current smokers who smoke more than 16 cigarettes per day had a whopping 42% increased risk of cataract extraction compared to those who never smoke. Even after quitting for more than 20 years, the study found that men who had previously smoked 15 cigarettes or more a day had a 21% increased risk of cataract compared to those who never smoked at all.

A total of 44,371 men were included in this study overall, of which 24.9% were men who currently smoked, 38.8% were men who had smoked in the past, and 36.3% were men who had never smoked.

“Adjusted for age, ever smokers had a 21% increased risk of having a cataract extraction. Current smokers who smoked 15 or more cigarettes per day had a relative risk of 1.42 (95% CI, 1.28-1.58). After smoking cessation, risk of cataract extraction decreased with time (P<0.001). More than 20 years after smoking cessation, the adjusted relative risk for past smokers was 1.21 (95% CI, 1.06-1.39),” the study reported.

This study is just one of many which has linked smoking to many ophthalmologic conditions, including cataract development.

Other Vision Problems Associated With Smoking

In addition to the many links between smoking and cataract formation, research has also found that smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. This vision problem involves the deterioration of the macula―the central part of the retina that allows us to perceive fine details in our vision. As the macula wears out through macular degeneration, people often will experience visual distortions, blurriness or blind spots in their central vision.

Studies have also linked cigarette smoking to vision problems such as:

  • Lazy eye
  • Dry eyes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Conjunctivitis

If you or someone you know is a long-time smoker, help them get started with their New Year’s resolution of quitting by sharing this article with them. Not only can quitting make a long term difference towards your personal health goals, but also towards your vision health in the new year. Happy 2014!


Research: Source

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