Smoking of beedies and cataract: cadmium and vitamin C in the lens and blood

Br J Ophthalmol. 1995 Mar;79(3):202-6. doi: 10.1136/bjo.79.3.202.


Estimation of cadmium and vitamin C was performed in the blood and lens of smokers in three age groups up to a maximum age of 58, habituated to smoking a minimum of 10 beedies a day for many years, as well as those of non-smokers in the same age groups. Only nuclear cataracts with or without posterior or anterior subcapsular cataract were chosen. It was found that there was a significant accumulation of cadmium in both the blood and the lens of the smokers. Such an accumulation of cadmium might have a role in cataractogenesis in chronic smokers. In a similar experiment, with smokers and non-smokers of two age groups up to a maximum age of 40, both without cataract, increased levels of cadmium were found in the blood of smokers only, though the extent of accumulation was not as high as in chronic smokers of higher age groups. Vitamin C content of lens was on the lower side of normal in both chronic smokers of beedies in the two age groups and non-smokers with nuclear cataract with or without posterior and anterior subcapsular cataract, and there was no significant change brought about by smoking. Vitamin C levels in blood were towards the lower side of the normal in smokers and non-smokers with and without cataract.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / blood
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / complications*
  • Cadmium / adverse effects
  • Cadmium / analysis
  • Cadmium / metabolism*
  • Cataract / blood
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / chemistry
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Cadmium
  • Ascorbic Acid