Several studies have shown that smoking is a risk factor for cataract development, but smokeless tobacco may be even more of a risk, according to a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Among 3,924 subjects, 1,705 used tobacco and were significantly older (mean age of 56) than non-users (mean age of 52). Of these patients, 731 smoked, 900 used smokeless tobacco and 74 used tobacco in both forms. These patients were all part of the Chennai Glaucoma Study, a population-based study conducted to estimate the prevalence of glaucoma in a rural southern Indian population.

The researchers found no significant association for smoking with any particular type of cataract. Cataract was prevalent among 52.6% of men who smoked (social norms in India discourage women from smoking, although smokeless tobacco use is acceptable) vs. 50.76% in men and 51.44% in women who used no tobacco.

Prevalence of cataract was highest among smokeless tobacco users in the study74.17% among men and 73.57% among women who used smokeless tobacco. Also, prevalence of cataract was 67.57% among men who used both forms of tobacco.

Awareness of the hazards of smokeless tobacco use is very low in rural populations, the researchers say. On the other hand, many people believe that tobacco in smokeless form has medicinal value in curing toothache or cold. Hence, an anti-tobacco program, educating [patients] on the ill effects of tobacco use may help in promoting a healthy behavior, particularly among the younger generation, thereby reducing tobacco-related ailments.

Survey Reveals Americans Have a Low "Eye-Q"

Nearly 20% of American adults have never been to an eye doctor, according to the first American Eye-Q survey. The survey, conducted by the American Optometric Association in conjunction with Opinion Research Corporation, interviewed 1,000 adult Americans.

Here are some highlights (and lowlights):

  • More than three out of five (62%) Americans who do not currently wear glasses or contacts have not been to an eye doctor in the past two years.
  • About half (44%) of American parents do no know that behavioral problems can indicate a childs vision impairment.
  • Nearly one-third (29%) of all children have never been to an eye doctor.
  • More than 60% of adults know that diabetes and hypertension are detectable through a comprehensive eye exam. But, only 23% are aware that symptoms of multiple sclerosis may also be detected though a comprehensive eye exam.
  • Seven out of ten Americans mistakenly believe that carrots are the best food for their eye health. (Spinach and broccoli are better.)

Raju P, George R, Sathyamangalam RV, et al. Influence of tobacco use on cataract development. Br J Ophthalmol 2006 Jul 12; [Epub ahead of print].


Vol. No: 143:09Issue: 9/15/2006