Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Clinical science
Use of antihypertensive medications and topical beta-blockers and the long-term incidence of cataract and cataract surgery
  1. G L Kanthan1,
  2. J J Wang1,2,
  3. E Rochtchina1,
  4. P Mitchell1
  1. 1
    Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology and Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2
    Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor P Mitchell, Centre for Vision Research, Westmead Hospital, Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, Sydney, Australia 2145; paul_mitchell{at}


Aim: 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 to 5.16 respectively) and significantly predicted incident cataract surgery (OR 1.61, CI 1.14 to 2.28 and OR 3.09, CI 1.60 to 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 to 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.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding The study was supported by the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council, Canberra, Australia (Grant Nos 974159 and 211069).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee and Sydney West Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Patient consent Obtained.