Annals of African Medicine

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Risk factors for visually disabling age-related cataracts in Ibadan

CO Bekibele, AO Ashaye, BGK Ajayi


Objective: To assess the risk factors for visually disabling age related cataracts.

Methods: A hospital based case-control study carried out at the university College Hospital Ibadan between May 1996 and March 1997. Three hundred and eighty three cases were matched for age and sex with five hundred and ninety nine controls. Subjects aged 50 years and above were examined for visual disabling central lens opacities, which were graded on a scale of 0-3, through undilated pupil with direct ophthalmoscope set at +2.00 Diopters, and held 1/3 meter away. Grades 2a or more with visual acuity less than 6/18 only were selected as cases. Both cases and controls were examined and the risk for development of cataract determined.

Results: The analysis revealed a strong association between uncontrolled diabetes and cataracts (O.R 2.03, P < 0.021). A risk was seen to exist between visually disabling cataract and ultraviolet exposure (O.R 1.45; P <0.003), uncontrolled hypertension (O.R 1.3, p>0.05) and topical steroid use (O.R 1.57; p>0.05).

Exposure to alcohol was found to be protective (O.R 0.66; P < 0.05) while no risk was observed with severe diarrhoea (O.R 0.85; P >0.05) and heavy smoking (O.R 0.81; P > 0.05).

Conclusion: The study confirms an association between cataract and exposure to diabetes, ultraviolet irradiation, hypertension, corticosteroids, and cigarette smoking. There is therefore a need for introduction of intervention measures aimed at reducing exposure to these risk factors.

Keywords: Age-related cataract, visually disabling cataract, cataract risk factors

Annals of African Medicine Vol.2(1) 2003: 27-32

AJOL African Journals Online