An earlier case control investigation has indicated a strong relationship between dehydrational crises and risk of presenile cataract. A second methodologically distinct case control study of risk factors in cataract has been carried out in a population very different in terms of environmental and sociocultural characteristics from the population investigated in the earlier study in Central India. The results strongly confirm the findings from the first study and indicate that an estimated 38% of blinding cataract may be attributable to repeated dehydrational crises resulting from severe life threatening diarrhoeal disease and/or heatstroke. The risk of blinding cataract was strongly related to level of exposure to dehydrational crises in a consistent and dose dependent manner, thus indicating a causal association. The findings are discussed in relation to possible sources of bias in the study, confounding in the data, and the steps that were taken to minimise their undesirable effects.
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