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Diverse Variables Affect Risk of Age-Related Cataracts

Sun exposure and sun-sensitizing meds combined, smoking, socioeconomic factors may up risk

MONDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of cataracts can be increased by a combination of sun exposure and sun-sensitizing medications, by smoking, or even by socioeconomic factors, according to two studies in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Barbara E.K. Klein, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues estimated sun exposure and the use of sun-sensitizing medications among adult residents of Beaver Dam, Wis., starting in 1988 to 1990 (baseline), and assessed their association with the incidence of age-related cataracts in up to 15 years of follow-up. The researchers found no significant effect for sun exposure or sun-sensitizing medication considered separately, but when the variables were combined, the risk of cortical cataract was significantly increased.

Renyi Wu, M.D., of the Singapore Eye Research Institute, and colleagues studied 3,280 Malay subjects, aged 40 to 80 years, to determine the effect of socioeconomic factors and smoking on age-related cataract incidence. After adjusting for demographics and health issues in 2,927 participants with gradable lens photographs, the researchers found that current smokers had a higher risk of nuclear cataract (odds ratio [OR], 2.06), posterior subcapsular cataract (OR, 1.39), cortical cataract (OR, 1.33), or any cataract (OR, 1.48) than nonsmokers. Primary/lower education (OR, 1.67) and low monthly income (OR, 1.43) were associated with nuclear cataract, while small public housing was associated with posterior subcapsular cataract (OR, 1.70). Among men, 43.5 percent were smokers (versus 3.2 percent of women), while the population attributable risk of nuclear cataract due to smoking in men was estimated at 17.6 percent.

"Smoking and indicators of low socioeconomic status were associated with cataract in Malay persons, with one in six nuclear cataract cases in men attributable to smoking. Smoking-cataract associations were stronger in Malay than in white persons," Wu and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Klein
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Abstract - Wu
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