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Systemic Medications and increased risk of Cataracts

Study Rundown: Though the main risk factor for cataract development is increasing age, external factors, including various systemic medications, have been associated in past studies with increased cataract incidence. This retrospective study aimed to explore associations between medications and need for cataract surgery in a US database of about 15,000 adults. Statistically significant associations with greater cataract incidence were observed for tricyclic antidepressants, insulin, group III antiarrhythmic agents, loop diuretics, minerals and electrolytes, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. A dose-response relationship was observed for each of these categories. The increase in odds of cataract surgery with drug exposure ranged from 120% for tricyclic antidepressants to 30% for calcium channel blockers. Sex hormone use in female patients was associated with a significant decrease in cataract risk. With the exception of mineral and electrol
yte use, all of these medication exposures have been reported as possible risk factors in previous studies. Though the association of insulin with cataracts remained significant after adjustment for diabetes diagnosis, it is likely that confounding by the disease state itself accounts for at least part of many of these medication associations. This study is also limited by its use of survey data without information on duration of medication use. Though further study of both the physiological mechanisms underlying these associations is needed, this study and others like it suggest that additional vigilance for cataract development in older patients taking certain prescription drugs may be reasonable.

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