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Drops for Ocular Hypertension May Boost Cataract Rates

Cataract extraction, surgery higher in patients receiving topical hypotensive medication

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Use of topical medication to treat ocular hypertension or glaucoma is associated with higher rates of cataract extraction and cataract/filtering surgery, according to the results of a multi-center clinical trial published in the November issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

David Herman, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study investigators looked at data from patients with ocular hypertension who were randomized to observation (819 subjects) or ocular hypotensive therapy (817 subjects) in a trial that was designed to see if treatment could delay or prevent primary open-angle glaucoma.

Compared with an observation-only group, the medication group had an increased rate of cataract extraction and cataract/filtering surgery (hazard ratio, 1.56) during an average follow-up of 6.3 years. Borderline higher grade of posterior subcapsular opacification was also found in the medication group. There was no effect on lens opacification or visual function.

Given their findings and those from another study, the authors "believe it is important for future investigators to include prospective studies on the effect of all classes of topical ocular hypotensive medication on lens opacification."

Merck Research Laboratories provided support for the study.

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