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Arch Ophthalmol. 1997 Oct;115(10):1296-303.

Alcohol, smoking, and cataracts: the Blue Mountains Eye Study.

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Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To investigate the associations between alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, and cataract.


A population-based, cross-sectional study.


An urban community in the Blue Mountains, close to Sydney, Australia.


Three thousand six hundred fifty-four people aged 49 to 97 years. The participation rate was 82%.


Smoking history and details of current alcohol consumption were assessed by questionnaire. Lens photographs were taken and graded for presence and severity of cortical, nuclear, and posterior subcapsular cataracts.


After adjusting for multiple potential confounders, people who had ever smoked cigarettes had a higher prevalence than nonsmokers of more severe nuclear (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-1.6) and posterior subcapsular (adjusted OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.1) cataracts. The association between pipe smoking and nuclear cataract (adjusted OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.5-8.2) was stronger than the association with cigarette smoking. Alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced prevalence of cortical cataract: compared with people who did not drink, the adjusted OR for cortical cataract among people who drank at least 1 drink a day was 0.7 (95% CI, 0.6-0.9). Heavy alcohol consumption (> or =4 drinks a day) was associated with nuclear cataract in current smokers (adjusted OR compared with nondrinkers, 3.9; 95% CI, 0.9-16.6) but not in never smokers.


Consistent with other studies, smoking was associated with a higher prevalence of nuclear and posterior subcapsular cataracts. The only adverse effect of alcohol was among smokers: people who smoked and drank heavily had an increased prevalence of nuclear cataract.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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