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Antidepressants May Increase Cataract Risk in Elderly

Canadian case-control study finds risk highest for SSRIs fluvoxamine and venlafaxine

WEDNESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Older people who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be at increased risk for developing cataracts, according to research published in Ophthalmology.

Mahyar Etminan, of the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute in Canada, and colleagues assembled Quebec provincial data on subjects 65 or older who had received a coronary revascularization procedure from 1995 through 2004. The researchers extracted data on 18,784 subjects in the cohort who had been diagnosed with a cataract and matched each of them with 10 control subjects.

The researchers found that, overall, the adjusted rate ratio (RR) for cataracts among current SSRI users was 1.15, with the risk highest for those taking fluvoxamine (RR, 1.39), venlafaxine (RR, 1.33), and paroxetine (RR, 1.23). The average time from initiation of SSRI therapy to diagnosis of cataracts was 656 days. However, the researchers note that the study did not account for other cataract risk factors, in particular smoking.

"A possible association was found between current exposure to SSRIs, especially fluvoxamine and venlafaxine, and a future diagnosis of cataracts. The possibility that this observation may be the result of the effect of smoking, which could not be controlled for in the study, cannot be excluded. Future studies are needed to confirm this association in other populations," the authors write.

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