Smoking is a well known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, breathing and lung problems, all types of cancer as well as the eye problems of age related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal vascular disease, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It has also been reported that smoking increases your risk of cataracts. But, there is some good news from researchers who studied the risk of cataracts among smokers and reported in JAMA Ophthalmology that stopping smoking decreases the risk of cataracts over time.
Research Says Stop Smoking to Decrease Cataract Risk
The researchers followed a total of 44,371 men, 45 to 79 years old over a 10 year period. 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 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 has been a smoker or is currently a smoker and is concerned about their risk of cataracts, there is good reason to stop smoking. If you have questions about cataract risk, cataract surgery or lens implants please feel free to call Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.