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The Link between Smoking and Cataracts By Daniel J Tepper on February 01, 2019

Red, black, and white no-smoking signCataracts can develop due to a number of causes, including genetics, exposure to toxins, ultraviolet radiation, diabetes, and tobacco use. The link between smoking and cataracts has been studied, and researchers have found a connection between tobacco use and an elevated risk of developing cataracts.

The doctors at Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL explain the risk factors associated with smoking and cataracts. If you need cataract surgery, our eye doctors will prescribe a treatment plan that will meet your needs.

Does Tobacco Use Put You at Risk for Cataracts?

According to the Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and numerous study findings, tobacco use can increase your risk for developing cataracts.

One theory linking smoking and cataracts suggests that smoking oxidizes the lens of the eye. Other studies have linked smoking with the accumulation of heavy metals such as cadmium in the lens.

Research shows that the risk of cataracts rises with the degree of tobacco use. There is also a growing body of evidence linking macular degeneration with smoking.

If you smoke, the CDC warns on its website, you can develop a “serious eye condition” such as macular degeneration and cataracts. That is why the federal health agency advises cessation of smoking as the best option for lowering the risk of cataracts.

Data from the National Eye Institute estimates that smokers are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that while smoking increases your risk for “cloudy vision” from cataracts, those risks can decrease to levels similar to non-smokers if tobacco use is completely ceased.

Tobacco use is not the only risk factor for cataracts. Other common risk factors include:

  • Age: The percentage of people in the United States with cataracts rises based on average age.
  • Genetics: If your parents developed cataracts, you may be at an increased risk for the eye disease.
  • Trauma: Injury to the eye can cause cataracts.
  • Diabetes: Irregular glucose levels can lead to cataracts.

Learn More about Cataract Treatment Options

Are you a heavy smoker? You may have an elevated risk of developing cataracts. Early symptoms of cataracts may not be noticeable.

Common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of night vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights
  • Loss of perceived color vibrancy
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription

If you are a frequent tobacco user who has concerns about cataracts, our team of doctors will be glad to provide an eye examination and discuss what your risk factors may be for cataracts and other eye conditions. Our IOLMaster® 700 identifies irregularities in your eye with great precision while our OPD-Scan III system can complete 20 unique diagnostic measurements in less than 10 seconds per eye.

Should you need cataract treatment, our clinic provides state-of-the-art laser treatments to remove your cataract and restore your vision. For more information, contact us online or call (773) 376-2020.

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Wicker Park Eye Center

At Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL, Dr. Daniel J. Tepper, a board-certified ophthalmologist and Parisha Shah, fellowship-trained optometrists, provide patient-centric eye care. Our affiliations include:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Optometric Association (AOA)

To schedule an appointment at our eye clinic, please contact us online or call (773) 376-2020.

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"I have visited Wicker Eye Park Center a few times, with each visit I have received excellent service. Dr. Tepper is the best ophthalmologist that I have seen in many years. He, like his staff, is also courteous respectful and very professional." Juan B.

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