Ultraviolet Light Exposure and Risk of Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

Tom W. Bochow, Sheila K. West, Beatriz Munoz, Alfred Sommer, Hugh R. Taylor, Alex Azar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataracts are a visually disabling form of cataract and account for 40% of surgical cases. Although PSC opacities may occur following intraocular inflammation, trauma, or use of steroids, the cause is often unknown. A case-control study was undertaken to investigate the role of exposure to ultraviolet light in the B range (UV-B) and other potential risk factors for the development of PSC cataracts. Surgical PSC cataract cases from a large rural ophthalmic practice on the lower eastern shore of Maryland were matched with phakic controls without PSC cataract changes from the same geographic area by age, sex, and referral pattern. All patients with PSC opacities who underwent cataract surgery in a 12-month period were chosen. One hundred sixty-eight cases and 168 controls were interviewed regarding sunlight exposure, drug use, occupational history, history of diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. Matched-pairs analyses indicated that a history of relatively high exposure to UV-B was associated with increased risk of PSC cataracts. The association of PSC cataracts with steroid use and diabetes was reconfirmed. Subjects with blue eyes and less than high school education were also at increased risk for PSC cataracts. Smoking and hypertension were not found to be PSC cataract risk factors. These data suggest that UV-B exposure may be an important risk factor for PSC cataracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-372
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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