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Am J Ophthalmol. 2001 Oct;132(4):537-43.

Cataract and hearing loss in a population-based study: the Beaver Dam studies.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 610 North Walnut Street, Madison, WI 53705-2397, USA.



Cataract and hearing loss are each common at older ages and together may influence the ability to function independently and affect the sense of well-being. For these reasons, we sought to estimate the risk factors for comorbidity of age-related cataract and hearing loss.


A cross-sectional evaluation of a population-based cohort of older adults was conducted in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, for presence of age-related cataract and hearing loss. The study evaluation included taking standardized medical histories, measuring blood pressures, and obtaining blood specimens. Standardized photographs, which were graded according to well-defined protocols to assess the presence of nuclear, cortical or posterior subcapsular cataract, were taken. Audiometric testing was performed according to well-defined study protocols.


Any type of cataract in combination with hearing loss in either ear was frequent, occurring in 27.8% of the population overall and increasing consistently with age. Nuclear and posterior subcapsular cataract in combination with hearing loss occurred more often in men. Lifestyle factors that were associated with at least one cataract-hearing loss end point in at least one sex were history of heavy drinking and smoking.


In this community, older adults appear to be at high risk of cataract and hearing loss. Although risk is strongly associated with age, some elective exposures appear to influence risk. It is possible that modification of certain lifestyle habits may alter these risks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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