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Use of antihypertensive medications and topical beta-blockers and the long-term incidence of cataract and cataract surgery
  1. G L Kanthan,
  2. J J Wang,
  3. E Rochtchina and
  4. P Mitchell
  1. University of Sydney, Centre for Vision Research, Westmead Millennium Institute, Sydney, Australia
  1. * Corresponding author; email: paul_mitchell{at}


Purpose: To assess the association between antihypertensive medications and the long-term incidence of both cataract and cataract surgery.

Methods: 3654 persons aged 49+ years were examined at baseline and 2454 were re-examined after 5 and/or 10 years. Interviewer-administered questionnaires collected information on use of medications. Lens photographs were taken at each visit and graded. Associations between antihypertensive medications and the 10-year incidence of cataract and cataract surgery were assessed.

Results: The use of either oral or topical β-blockers had a borderline association with nuclear cataract (odds ratio [OR] 1.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.97 to 2.15, and OR 2.12, CI 0.87 - 5.16 respectively) and significantly predicted incident cataract surgery (OR 1.61, CI 1.14 - 2.28 and OR 3.09, CI 1.60 - 5.95 respectively) after adjusting for age, gender, blood pressure, intraocular pressure, myopia, diabetes, smoking and steroid use. Apart from an association between angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and incident cataract surgery (OR 1.70, 95% CI: 1.10 - 2.60), no other antihypertensive medications were found to predict incident cataract or cataract surgery.

Conclusions: Users of oral or topical β-blockers had a higher incidence of both nuclear cataract and cataract surgery. Further studies are warranted to confirm and understand this finding.

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