Cataracts are a common eye disease. In fact, they are the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 80. Cataracts can occur at any age, but in most cases, they begin to develop in patients over 60 years old. They cloud the eye’s natural lens, making it more difficult to focus or see clearly.
This condition has been directly linked to smoking. Here, Dr. Raul Peña discusses the topic of cataracts and smoking so that patients at our Harlingen, TX, practice can be well-informed.
The Link between Tobacco and Cataracts
It is no secret that smoking damages the lungs but tobacco products also have a negative impact on several systems of the body. Studies over the past few decades have confirmed that smoking increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, COPD, and more. Smoking also impedes the body’s natural healing abilities. Additionally, smoking is detrimental to the eyes. Several ocular diseases have been linked to tobacco, including cataracts. One 12-year study found that smokers had a 42 percent increased risk of cataracts compared to nonsmokers.
How Kicking the Habit Can Help
Fortunately, most health risks attributed to smoking actually decrease rather quickly after quitting the habit. Within just a few short months, an individual’s risks of heart, lung, and eye disease decrease by a significant margin. The longer you stay away from tobacco products, the lower your risk will be.
It is important to note that kicking the habit will not totally eliminate the risk for health issues. Research still concludes that individuals who have smoked at any point during their lives are more likely to develop cataracts.
When cataracts first develop, corrective eyewear can be used to help patients see more clearly for a time. However, as the disease progresses, surgery is eventually necessary. At our Harlingen practice, Dr. Peña offers intraocular lens implants (IOLs) to help patients regain their vision.
During this outpatient procedure, Dr. Peña dilates the pupils and administers local anesthesia to numb the area. Next, the natural, clouded eye lens is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial one. There are several types of IOLs available at our practice, including monofocal, multifocal, and toric. Once the new lens is placed, most patients notice improved vision within a few days.
Other Ways to Reduce the Risk for Cataracts
In addition to quitting smoking, there are also other ways to reduce your risk for cataracts. Keep in mind that this condition cannot be prevented altogether, but following a few guidelines can give you the best chance for success:
- Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, including dark green, leafy vegetables.
- Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation.
- If you have diabetes, keep the disease under control.
- Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat outdoors.
- Visit your eye doctor routinely.
Contact Our Practice for More Information
If you are a smoker, kicking the habit for good can drastically reduce your risk of cataracts and other serious health issues. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment at our Harlingen office, contact us online or give us a call at (956) 264-1200.