Smoking may boost risk of age-related cataracts

smoking boosts cataractsNeed another reason to kick the cigarette habit? Try a reduced chance of getting cataracts.

Researchers at the Institute of Ophthalmology at Zhejiang University in China found that smoking may increase the risk of age-related cataracts, which are the leading cause of blindness and vision loss around the world.

The study was done by compiling data from 21 studies performed by scientists in many other countries, and then comparing the prevalence of age-related cataracts in people who smoked vs. those who never smoked.

Researchers found that smoking causes three major types of age-related cataracts:

• cortical cataracts, caused when the cortex is clouded.

• nuclear cataracts, caused when the central zone of the lens is clouded

• posterior subscapsular cataracts, caused when the back of the lens gets clouded

In addition, researchers say that smoking increases the risk of age-related cataract by 40 percent to 57 percent, and that the risk of developing nuclear cataract is 67 per cent higher in the people who smoke.

While cataracts can be successfully removed, many people do not have access to the procedure, or cannot afford it. That means identifying risk factors such as smoking may be their best bet for good eyesight as they age, according to the study’s authors.

The study was published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.