February 1991

The Lens Opacities Case-Control StudyRisk Factors for Cataract

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Epidemiology, the Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook (Dr Leske and Ms Wu); and the Center for Clinical Cataract Research, The Brigham and Women's Hospital, The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Chylack).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(2):244-251. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080020090051

• The Lens Opacities Case-Control Study evaluated risk factors for age-related nuclear, cortical, posterior subcapsular, and mixed cataracts. The 1380 participants were ophthalmology outpatients, aged 40 to 79 years, classified into the following groups: posterior subcapsular only, 72 patients; nuclear only, 137 patients; cortical only, 290 patients; mixed cataract, 446 patients; and controls, 435 patients. In polychotomous logistic regression analyses, low education increased risk (odds ratio [OR]= 1.46) and regular use of multivitamin supplements decreased risk (OR =0.63) for all cataract types. Dietary intake of riboflavin, vitamins C, E, and carotene, which have antioxidant potential, was protective for cortical, nuclear, and mixed cataract; intake of niacin, thiamine, and iron also decreased risk. Similar results were found in analyses that combined the antioxidant vitamins (OR =0.40) or considered the individual nutrients (OR =0.48 to 0.56). Diabetes increased risk of posterior subcapsular, cortical, and mixed cataracts (OR =1.56). Oral steroid therapy increased posterior subcapsular cataract risk (OR = 5.83). Females (OR =1.51) and nonwhites (OR = 2.03) were at increased risk only for cortical cataract. Risk factors for nuclear cataract were a nonprofessional occupation (OR =1.96), current smoking (OR = 1.68), body mass index (OR = 0.76), and occupational exposure to sunlight (OR =0.61). Gout medications (OR =2.48), family history (OR =1.52), and use of eyeglasses by age 20 years, which is an indicator of myopia (OR = 1.44), increased risk of mixed cataract. The results support a role for the nutritional, medical, personal, and other factors in cataractogenesis. The potentially modifiable factors suggested by this study merit further evaluation.