Objective: To examine prospectively the association between cigarette smoking and the risk of cataract extraction in women.
Design: Prospective cohort study beginning in 1980 with 8 years of follow-up.
Setting: United States, multistate.
Participants: Registered nurses 45 to 67 years of age and free of diagnosed cancer. There were 50,828 women included in 1980 and others were added as they became 45 years of age.
Main outcome measure: Incidence of senile cataract extraction.
Results: We documented 493 incident senile cataracts diagnosed and extracted during 470,302 person-years of follow-up. The age-adjusted relative risk (RR) among women who smoked at least 65 pack-years was 1.63 (95% confidence interval [Cl], 1.18 to 2.26; P for trend, .02). A similar increase in RR was noted when smoking was assessed in terms of number of cigarettes currently smoked or number of cigarettes smoked by past smokers. Results were also similar after adjusting for other potential risk factors for cataract. Smoking was also strongly associated with posterior subcapsular cataract specifically (RR, 2.59; 95% Cl, 1.49 to 4.50 for greater than or equal to 65-pack-year smokers relative to nonsmokers.
Conclusion: Smoking appears to increase the risk of cataract extraction.