The authors modeled the possible consequences for US cataract incidence of increases in ultraviolet B radiation due to ozone depletion. Data on the dose-response relation between ocular exposure to ultraviolet B radiation and cortical cataract were derived from a population-based study (the Salisbury Eye Evaluation Project, Salisbury, Maryland) in which extensive data on cataract and ultraviolet radiation were collected in persons aged 65-84 years. Exposure estimates for the US population were derived using estimated ultraviolet radiation fluxes as a function of wavelength. US Census data were used to obtain the age, ethnicity, and sex distribution of the population. Predicted probabilities of cataract were derived from the age-, sex-, and ethnicity-specific ocular ultraviolet exposure data and were modeled under conditions of 5-20% ozone depletion. The analysis indicated that by 2050, the prevalence of cortical cataract will increase above expected levels by 1.3-6.9%. The authors estimate that with 5-20% ozone depletion, there will be 167,000-830,000 additional cases of cortical cataract by 2050. Because of the high prevalence of cataract in older persons, at a 2003 cost of $3,370 per cataract operation, this increase could represent an excess cost of $563 million to $2.8 billion.
- Ultraviolet rays
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