Los Angeles Ophthalmologist Dr. Babak Shabatian of CaliEye Responds to Study Linking Smoking to the Development of Cataracts

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The dangers of lighting up are well known, and a new study conducted by Zhejiang University has found that cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing age-related cataracts, the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness in the world. Los Angeles Eye Surgeon Dr. Babak Shabatian explains that quitting smoking can potentially reverse damage to the eyes and reduce the risk of developing cataracts.

Smoking damages the eyes by the development of plaque in the arteries, and the macular area of the retina has a very fine blood supply. These blood vessels become damaged through smoking and cause a steady loss of vision.

Smokers now have another reason to quit. A Chinese research team from Zhejiang University has discovered a link between cigarette smoking and developing age-related cataracts, published in the June edition of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Cigarette smoke contains nearly 4000 active compounds and many are toxic, such as formaldehyde, arsenic and carbon monoxide. Los Angeles Ophthalmologist Dr. Babak Shabatian of CaliEye explains that cigarette smoking can cause or worsen several eye disorders, including age-related macular degeneration, which has no effective medical or surgical cure.

Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process, most common in those over 65 years old. Cataract symptoms include clouding of the lens of the eye causing blurred vision, glare from bright lights, and difficulty reading which can lead to vision loss if left untreated. Cataract removal is one of the most common surgical procedures performed worldwide, which involves removing the natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens to correct vision.

“Smoking damages the eyes by the development of plaque in the arteries, and the macular area of the retina has a very fine blood supply. These blood vessels become damaged through smoking and cause a steady loss of vision,” said Dr. Shabatian. “Damage to the eyes can possibly be reversed when smokers quit, depending on the severity of their eye disease.”

By analyzing 12 cohorts and eight case studies from five continents, the Chinese research team found a higher prevalence of age-related cataracts in people who had ever smoked versus people who had never smoked. Former smokers only have a slightly higher risk of developing cataracts compared to those who had never smoked, and the highest risk for developing cataracts was in those who were current smokers.

Although smoking had long been identified as a potential risk factor for cataract development, previous research did not specify the subtypes of cataracts which are more likely to occur in smokers. The study showed that current smokers were more likely to develop nuclear cataracts and subscapular cataracts. Nuclear cataracts include a clouding in the central nucleus of the eye, and subscapular cataracts involve clouding of the rear of the lens capsule.

“Although cataracts can be removed surgically to restore sight, many people remain blind from cataracts due to inadequate surgical services and high surgery expenses,” said lead author Dr. Juan Ye in a recent statement to The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. “Identifying modifiable risk factors for cataracts may help establish preventive measures and reduce the financial as well as clinical burden caused by the disease.”

The reason why cataracts are more likely to develop in smokers is not fully understood, although it could be caused by the destruction of antioxidant nutrients, which help keep the lens transparent. Smoking may also destroy other micronutrients which are critical to maintenance of healthy eye tissues.

“It’s important to remember that smoking is a major contributor to eye diseases, such as the early development of cataracts or macular degeneration,” said Dr. Shabatian. “Quitting smoking is a way to ensure that your vision is maintained for as long as possible during the aging process.”

To learn more about cataracts and cataract surgery, visit http://www.calieye.com.


About Dr. Babak Shabatian
Dr. Babak Shabatian is a Board-Certified Ophthalmic Surgeon who practices comprehensive ophthalmology with a focus on advanced cataract surgery and LASIK. He received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and was Chief Resident at the prestigious North Shore – Long Island Jewish Hospital. He completed fellowship training in retina and vitreous diseases at SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He is frequently invited to lecture on topics of refractive and advanced cataract surgery. He has performed thousands of procedures with excellent and predictable results, and has a sense of compassion and positive energy with his patients. Dr. Shabatian states that eye surgery gives him the opportunity to transform lives in minutes, and he is committed to ensuring that his patients have a great experience at every level of their care.

About CaliEye
CaliEye has a team of committed, experienced professionals who offer only the greatest quality of care and safety to every one of our patients. Dr. Shabatian has performed thousands of procedures in Southern California using only the most state of the art equipment. CaliEye will address all of your questions and concerns with the highest level of respect and understanding. To learn more, call (310) 909-8880 or visit http://www.calieye.com.

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