Sun-sensitizing medications, sun exposure associated with common type of cataract

Jun 14, 2010

The use of medications that increase sensitivity to the sun, combined with exposure to sunlight, appears to be associated with the risk of age-related cataract, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the August print issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Besides age, several risk factors have been identified for common types of cataract, including smoking, diabetes and , according to background information in the article. Sunlight and exposure to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) rays have been shown to be associated with cortical cataract, clouding or opacity occurring first on the outer edges of the lenses. Some medications taken by mouth or by injection have been shown to increase sensitivity to the sun, causing signs and symptoms such as itching or rash on areas of the skin exposed to sunlight.

To determine if these medications also affect the association of to cortical cataract, Barbara E. K. Klein, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studied 4,926 individuals living in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and first examined between 1988 and 1990. Participants were interviewed about their residential history, which was used to construct a measure of their average annual exposure to ambient UV-B rays. Interviewers also asked participants to bring their medications, and any sun-sensitizing drug—including diuretics, , and the pain reliever naproxen sodium.

An increasing percentage of study participants reported having taken these types of medications over a 15-year follow-up period (24.1 percent at the beginning of the study, compared with 44.8 percent at the 15-year follow-up). The overall incidence of cataract was not associated with their use or with exposure to sunlight. However, after adjusting for age and sex, an interaction between sun-sensitizing medication use and UV-B exposure was associated with the development of cortical cataract.

"The medications (active ingredients) represent a broad range of chemical compounds, and the specific mechanism for the interaction is unclear," the authors write. The lens of the eye develops from the same layer of tissue as the skin, and medication that increases the skin's response to the sun may modify the effect of sunlight exposure on the eye as well.

"Our results need to be evaluated in other populations, especially in view of the increasing frequency of sun-sensitizing medications," the authors conclude. "If our findings are confirmed, it would be important to examine whether the effect is greater in those with higher levels of ambient sunlight (UV-B) exposure and if dose or duration of medication use is also important. Because cortical cataract is a common lens opacity in adults, present in about 16 percent of the Beaver Dam Eye Study population at the baseline examination, our study findings may be relevant to public health."

Explore further: Pollutants from coal-burning stoves strongly associated with miscarriages in Mongolia

More information: Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128[8]: doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.138

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New cataract gene discovered

Feb 14, 2008

The international team of researchers was able to identify the location and defect in the coding region of the gene through analysis of genetic material (DNA) from members of a large Swiss family, the majority ...

Occupational sunlight exposure and kidney cancer risk in men

Mar 08, 2010

According to a new study, men employed in occupations with potential exposure to high levels of sunlight have a reduced risk of kidney cancer compared with men who were less likely to be exposed to sunlight at work. The study ...

Pilots at risk for cosmic cataracts

Aug 08, 2005

Researchers say they've determined airline pilots are at increased risk of cataracts usually associated with aging as a result of cosmic radiation.

Recommended for you

High-calorie and low-nutrient foods in kids' TV

10 hours ago

Fruits and vegetables are often displayed in the popular Swedish children's TV show Bolibompa, but there are also plenty of high-sugar foods. A new study from the University of Gothenburg explores how food is portrayed in ...

Chemical companies shore up supplement science

10 hours ago

As evidence mounts showing the potential health benefits of probiotics, antioxidants and other nutritional compounds, more and more people are taking supplements. And the chemical industry is getting in on the action. But ...

More Americans in their golden years are going hungry

10 hours ago

In a country as wealthy as the United States, it may come as a surprise that one in 12 seniors do not have access to adequate food due to lack of money or other financial resources. They are food insecure.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Man among first in US to get 'bionic eye' (Update)

A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure ...