• Can the muzzle flashes from a tank firing cause cataracts?


    Question:

    My brother had cataracts removed from both of his eyes when he was in his early 40s. During basic training in the National Guard years earlier, he was exposed to flashes of bright light from a tank firing without wearing eye protection. Is it possible these bright flashes contributed to his premature cataracts?


    Answer:

    There are many causes for the early development of cataract including eye injuries, genetic syndromes, inherited predisposition, diabetes, steroid use, smoking, UV light exposure (sunlight, tanning beds, arc welding without protection), etc. While it is "possible" that some aspect of your brother's military experience and personal behaviors during his term of service could have contributed to his premature cataracts, there would be no way to identify the impact of any one specific exposure such as the cannon flashes.


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