Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Stop Smoking to Avoid Cataracts

It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that more than 42 million people in the United States are smokers. Cataracts are a major cause of vision loss in seniors and affect more than 24 million Americans over the age of 40. Now we know that there is a marked association between smoking and cataract development.

Research on Smoking & Cataracts
Researchers studying the risk of cataracts among smokers reported in JAMA Ophthalmology found that stopping smoking decreases the risk of cataracts over time. The researchers followed a total of 44,371 men, 45 to 79 years old over a 10 year period and the participants filled out questionnaires on their smoking habits and lifestyles and were then matched with the Swedish National Day-Surgery Register and local records of cataract extraction.

The researchers found that smokers of more than 15 cigarettes a day had a 42% increased risk of cataract surgery compared with men who had never smoked. It also found that men who smoked an average of more than 15 cigarettes a day but had stopped smoking more than 20 years earlier had a 21% increased risk. Thus, they found a positive association between cigarette smoking and cataract surgery in men, with a significant increase of cataracts among smokers compared to those who never smoked. Also, stopping smoking was associated with a statistically significant decrease in risk with increasing time from stopping smoking. Even heavy smokers had some benefit from quitting smoking. Further, a previous study from 2005 detailed the relationship between smoking cessation and cataract risk in women. In this study, they found that after cessation of smoking, cataract risk in women decreased with time. Women who smoked 6 to 10 cigarettes a day but had ceased smoking 10 years earlier, and women who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day but had ceased smoking 20 years earlier were found to have a relative risk of cataracts not significantly different from women who had never smoked.

Smoking cessation seems to decrease the risk of cataract development and the need for cataract surgery with time, although the risk persists for decades. The higher the intensity of smoking, the longer it takes for the increased risk to decline. These findings emphasize the importance of early smoking cessation and, preferably, the avoidance of smoking altogether.

If you or someone you know is a smoker and is concerned about cataracts please schedule an eye examination at Alabama Eye & Cataract Center in Birmingham by calling 205-930-0930, visiting Alabama Eye & Cataract Center, Google+ or www.facebook.com/michelsonlaservision.

Alabama Eye & Cataract Center in Birmingham is located at UAB-Highlands, 1201 11th Avenue S, Suite 501, Birmingham, Alabama 35205 and staffed by UAB Medicine Cataract Surgeons Marc Michelson, M.D. and Tyler Hall, M.D. who perform Laser Cataract Surgery at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital.