Can Smoking Cause Cataracts?

Cigarettes can have an adverse effect on our health, but not everyone is aware that smoking cigarettes can have a negative effect on our vision. Research has shown that smoking cigarettes can affect our natural lens, the focusing structure within our eye. Damage to the lens can lead to deterioration or opacification, leading to decreased vision, increased glare at night, and decreased accommodative (focusing) ability. Additionally, smoking can lower the amount of oxygen that is able to reach your eye which can decrease tear production and cause dry eye.

Recently, a study was done by a team of researchers in Sweden who wanted to know if there is a correlation between former smokers and their risk for cataract formation. This study followed an approximate 45,000 subjects. They found that men who currently smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day have a 42% greater risk of having cataract surgery than men who had never smoked. For those who have quit smoking for more than 20 years, it was found that they were at 20% greater risk for cataract formation compared to men who had never smoked. For men who had been light smokers, the increased risk of cataract formation fell more quickly after quitting. Their research has shown that the risk of former smokers developing cataracts had decreased to about half 20 years after quitting. According to this study it takes a longer time for the lens to recover with higher smoking intensity.

Importantly, smoking cigarettes will not only affect the smoker, but anyone living in the same household. Today, second hand smoke is considered a Class A Carcinogen. A person who is exposed to second hand smoke is at a greater risk to be diagnosed with tobacco-cigarette related illnesses such as asthma, lung cancer and cataracts.

Blog contribution by NataliaTemboni , Optometry Intern, College of Optometry ,Western University of Health Sciences

Remember the puff?

Just about everyone who has had an eye exam is familiar with the “puff of air test”. It measures pressure within the eye using a puff of air, which can be startling.  People who dread this test will be happy to know that we have replaced it with a new device; our modern Tono-pen is a handheld device, slightly larger than a pen.  This small piece of equipment only requires one eye drop for a quick and painless measurement of eye pressure. The test aides in screening for glaucoma.

airpuff cartoon1

Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve, leading to progressive, irreversible vision loss if left untreated.  Glaucoma is also the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. according to the American Optometric Association.  The main signs associated with glaucoma are side vision loss, high eye pressures, and optic nerve damage.

High eye pressure is the most common sign, but can be affected by changes in heart rate and blood pressure.  Unfortunately, feelings of nervousness or anxiousness when sitting in front of the “puff of air” machine can cause eye pressure readings higher than normal.  This is why it is so important to have a device that can get readings quickly and easily. The Tono-pen does just that; more accurate measurements are taken over time to determine if your eye pressure is increasing and potentially causing glaucoma.  For more information on glaucoma please visit or the American Optometric Association.

Blog contribution by Joseph Gray , Optometry Intern, College of Optometry ,Western University of Health Sciences