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Epidemiology and Biostatistics
December 1998

Exposure to Allopurinol and the Risk of Cataract Extraction in Elderly Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Potsdam Institute of Pharmacoepidemiology and Technology Assessment, Potsdam, Germany (Dr Garbe); the Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Royal Victoria Hospital and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec (Dr Suissa); and the Pharmacoepidemiology Unit of the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montreal, Campus Hôtel-Dieu, Université de Montreal (Dr LeLorier).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1998;116(12):1652-1656. doi:10.1001/archopht.116.12.1652

Objective  To determine whether exposure to allopurinol is associated with an increased risk of cataract extraction in elderly patients.

Methods  We conducted a case-control study using data from the Quebec universal health insurance program for all elderly patients. The 3677 cases were patients with a cataract extraction between 1992 and 1994. The 21,868 controls were randomly selected among patients not diagnosed with cataract and matched to cases on the date of the extraction. We determined the odds ratio of cataract extraction according to the cumulative dose and duration of allopurinol use relative to nonusers, using conditional logistic regression analysis. The analysis was adjusted for the effects of age, sex, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, glaucoma, and ophthalmic and oral corticosteroid exposure.

Results  A cumulative dose of allopurinol of more than 400 g or a duration of use of longer than 3 years were associated with an increased risk of cataract extraction, with odds ratios of 1.82 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-2.80) and 1.53 (95% CI, 1.12-2.08), respectively. No increase in risk was observed for lower cumulative doses or shorter exposure periods.

Conclusion  Long-term administration of allopurinol increases the risk of cataract extraction in elderly patients.