World No Tobacco Day – Smoking and Cataracts

Today is World No Tobacco Day, and the World Health Organization is warning that globally, tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year and that without any action, this number is expected to rise to 8 million by the year 2030. More than 80% of these deaths will be in middle and low income countries.

But now the plot thickens……

A study from China has found that there is an existing link between age-related cataracts and smoking. Researchers analyzed several case-controls studies from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America to compared the prevalence of age-related cataract in individuals who ever smoked cigarettes to those who have never smoked. There was an increased risk of age-related cataract in every single individual that ever smoked cigarettes, plus an additionally higher risk of incidence in current smokers.

Upon getting a closer look at the data, the positive association between smoking and age-related cataract was more evident with one subtype, nuclear cataract, it happens when the central nucleus of the lens in the eye yellows, causing blurred vision.

So what does this mean?

Given that people who smoke are at a greater risk of developing cataracts, and that many of these people are from low and middle income countries, you could expect that the number of people unable to afford cataract surgery in the coming years to increase. Organisations such as the Fred Hollows Foundation would experience an increased demand for their cataract surgeries. But imagine if you were unable to access a service such as this, being visually impaired from cataracts while you are dying from your smoking-related illness. Awful. Simply awful.

Amanda – Founder My Health Career :)

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