To describe the relationship of smoking, sex, and socioeconomic factors with age-related cataract in Malay adults in Singapore.
In a population-based study, 3280 Malay individuals aged 40 to 80 years participated (78.7% response rate). All had interviews, systemic examination, and laboratory investigations. Lens opacity was graded from slitlamp and retroillumination photographs using the Wisconsin Cataract Grading System. Smoking-cataract associations were compared with the Blue Mountains Eye Study in Australia.
Of 2927 participants (89.2%) with gradable lens photographs, 1338 (45.7%) had cataract. After adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes, current smokers had a higher prevalence of nuclear cataract (odds ratio [OR], 2.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.46-2.98), cortical cataract (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.02-1.74), posterior subcapsular cataract (OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.02-1.91), or any cataract (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.10-1.99). These associations were not seen in the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Primary or lower education (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.06-2.64) and low monthly income (OR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.09-1.87) were both associated with nuclear cataract, while small-sized public housing was associated with posterior subcapsular cataract (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.28-2.25). Among men, 43.5% currently smoked compared with only 3.2% of women. The population attributable risk of nuclear cataract due to smoking was estimated to be 17.6% in men.
Smoking and indicators of low socioeconomic status were associated with cataract in Malay persons, with 1 in 6 nuclear cataract cases in men attributable to smoking. Smoking-cataract associations were stronger in Malay than in white persons.