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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2001 Jun;42(7):1449-54.

Refractive errors and incident cataracts: the Beaver Dam Eye Study.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53705-2397, USA.



To describe the relation between refractive errors and incident age-related cataracts in a predominantly white US population.


All persons aged 43 to 84 years of age in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, were invited for a baseline examination from 1988 through 1990 and a follow-up examination 5 years later from 1993 through 1995. At both examinations, participants had refraction and photographic assessment of cataract, according to a standardized protocol. Myopia was defined as a spherical equivalent of -1.0 diopters (D) or less, hyperopia as +1.0 D or more. The relations between refractive errors at baseline and cataract at baseline (prevalent cataract), 5-year incident cataract, and incident cataract surgery were analyzed by using generalized estimating equations.


When age and gender were controlled for, myopia was related to prevalent nuclear cataract (odds ratio [OR], 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-2.27), but not to cortical and posterior subcapsular cataracts. Myopia was not related to 5-year incident nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular cataracts, but was related to incident cataract surgery (OR 1.89; CI 1.18-3.04). Hyperopia was related to incident nuclear (OR 1.56; CI 1.25-1.95) and possibly cortical (OR 1.25; CI 0.96-1.63) cataracts, but not to posterior subcapsular cataract or cataract surgery. After further adjustment for diabetes, smoking, and education, the association between myopia and incident cataract surgery was attenuated (OR 1.60; CI 0.96-2.64), but the associations between hyperopia and incident nuclear and cortical cataracts were unchanged.


These data support the cross-sectional association between myopia and nuclear cataract seen in other population-based studies, but provide no evidence of a relationship between myopia and 5-year incident cataract. Hyperopia may be related weakly to incident nuclear and cortical cataract.

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