Cigarettes have already been linked to a plethora of different diseases and adverse health conditions, and now a new study has found that the smoking could also increase the risk of developing cataracts in some individuals.
Dr. Juan Ye of the Zhejiang University Institute of Ophthalmology and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis, reviewing a dozen cohorts and eight case-control studies from five continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America) to determine smoking’s impact on the development of age-related cataracts, the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the world.
They looked at the occurrence of age-related cataract in individuals who had smoked cigarettes versus those who had never lit up. They also looked at the differences between former and current smokers, as well as each of the three different types of cataract that can develop in older individuals, the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) explained in an October 12 press release.
“The results showed that every individual that ever smoked cigarettes was associated with an increased risk of age-related cataract, with a higher risk of incidence in current smokers,” they said, adding that “former and current smokers showed a positive association with two of the subtypes: nuclear cataract, when the clouding is in the central nucleus of the eye, and subscapular cataract, when the clouding is in the rear of the lens capsule.”
The study did not find a link between smoking and cortical cataract, a type of cataract in which the cortex of the lens is affected by cloudiness. Their findings have been published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS).
“Although cataracts can be removed surgically to restore sight, many people remain blind from cataracts due to inadequate surgical services and high surgery expenses,” Ye said. “Identifying modifiable risk factors for cataracts may help establish preventive measures and reduce the financial as well as clinical burden caused by the disease.”
“We think our analysis may inspire more high-quality epidemiological studies” the study author added. “Our analysis shows that association between smoking and the risk of age-related cataract differ by subtypes, suggesting that pathophysiologic processes may differ in the different cataract types.”