03 January 2014

Quitting smoking may cut cataract risk

Research shows that smokers who quit may reduce their risk of developing the blurred vision problem known as cataracts.

Smokers who kick the habit may reduce their risk of developing the blurred vision problem known as cataracts, new research shows.

This common medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively cloudy is a leading cause of impaired vision. But researchers in Sweden found that middle-aged men who smoked at least 15 cigarettes per day could lower their risk for cataracts over the course of two decades if they quit smoking.

Watch: How to quit smoking in the New Year

"Smoking cessation may decrease the risk of cataract, but the risk among former smokers persists for decades. Since smoking is also related to other [eye] diseases, strategies to prevent smoking and promote smoking cessation are important, and eye care professionals should encourage people to stop smoking," Dr Birgitta Ejdervik Lindblad, of Orebro University Hospital, and colleagues concluded in their report.

The study, published in the online edition of JAMA Ophthalmology, involved a group of Swedish men ranging in age from 45 to 79 years. The researchers examined the link between quitting smoking and more than 5 700 cases of cataract removal over the course of 12 years.

The study findings showed that men who smoked more than 15 cigarettes daily had a 42% higher risk of undergoing cataract removal than men who never smoked. Over time, however, quitting smoking can reduce that risk, the study authors pointed out in a journal news release.

Read: 5 ways to quit smoking

The researchers found that more than 20 years after quitting, men who had smoked an average of more than 15 cigarettes per day had only a 21% greater risk for having a cataract removed than those who never smoked.

Read more on cataracts:

•             Why are more people getting cataracts

•             How antioxidants could lower cataracts risk

•             How Vitamin C lowers cataracts risk

•             Smoking may lead to cataracts in ageing population

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