The Effects Of Smoking On Cataracts

Guy breaking cigaretta in half

Cataracts are something that most people have to deal with at some point. Studies show that over 50 percent of people above the age of 70 have or have had cataracts.

They’re an incredibly common condition brought on by the natural aging process. But there are things besides age that determine if you will develop cataracts.

These risk factors include conditions like diabetes, but they can be lifestyle choices. One of the big ones? Smoking.

Increased Risk by Smoking

There have been many studies on the development of cataracts. There’s still a lot of things that scientists don’t know about why cataracts form. But through studies, they can pin down what factors are linked to cataract development.

Case in point: a number of studies show that smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts. This is when compared to non-smokers. As if smoking isn’t bad enough, you can look forward to being 50% more likely to develop cataracts. Want to cut your risk of developing cataracts in half? Stop smoking!

Possible Oxidation

Scientists aren’t clear about why smoking is such a large factor in developing cataracts. But there are theories. One theory is that smoking oxidizes the lens.

Oxidation is a chemical change that alters the cell composition of the lens. This causes the lens to become less transparent. As the lens becomes clouded, cataracts form.

Heavy Metals

Another theory for why smoking causes cataracts is that it causes the build-up of heavy metals in the lens. There’s evidence that smoking causes this build up.

This explains how the lens becomes cloudy. When the lens has material in it that isn’t transparent, the accumulation causes a change in the lens.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smoking alone isn’t the only way to increase your risk of developing cataracts. It’s clear that tobacco itself is a factor as well. We know this because smokeless tobacco is in correlation with cataract development. This suggests that tobacco is a key factor in the development of cataracts.

There hasn’t been enough conclusive evidence to pinpoint exactly what causes cataracts. It could be that smoke or nicotine plays a part.

The only thing we know for sure is that when you smoke, you are far more likely to develop cataracts. So if you need another reason to quit, think about your ocular health.

Cataracts are a pain at any age, but you definitely don’t want to have to deal with them while you’re still young. There is no way to completely avoid cataracts, but you can lessen your risks of early development.

One of the easiest ways is quitting smoking. You can also follow other lifestyle changes like eating healthier and exercising regularly.

If you have cataracts and believe you may need treatment, consider cataract surgery. Cataract surgery becomes necessary when you are no longer able to see to complete everyday activities like reading or texting.

Contact Ellis Eye and Laser Medical Center to request an appointment at one of our locations in San Francisco. We can check your cataracts and determine if you’re a good candidate for cataract surgery.

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