Quitting Smoking Decreases Risk of Developing Cataract

Did you know that May 31 is World No Tobacco Day? May is also Healthy Vision Month, making this a great time to consider the effect of smoking on our vision as we grow older. Here is a new study to give us extra motivation to quit, and to encourage loved ones of every age to do so as well:

Quitting smoking appears to decrease the risk of developing cataracts, according to a report published by JAMA Ophthalmology, a Journal of the American Medical Association Network publication.

Senior man standing behind eyesight test and pointing with stick

Smoking is a risk factor for developing cataracts, which are a leading cause of visual impairment, according to the study background.

Dr. Birgitta Ejdervik Lindblad of Örebro University Hospital, Sweden, and colleagues examined the association between smoking cessation and cataract extraction in a group of Swedish men (ages 45 to 79 years). Researchers identified 5,713 cases of age-related cataract removal during 12 years of follow-up.

Men currently smoking more than 15 cigarettes per day had a 42 percent increased risk of cataract extraction compared with men who never smoked. Quitting smoking decreased this risk with time, although the risk persisted for decades. Even more than 20 years after stopping smoking, men who smoked an average of more than 15 cigarettes a day had a 21 percent increased risk of having a cataract removed compared with those who never smoked.

"Smoking cessation may decrease the risk of cataract, but the risk among former smokers persists for decades. Since smoking is also related to other ocular diseases, strategies to prevent smoking and promote smoking cessation are important, and eye care professionals should encourage people to stop smoking," the authors conclude.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association