Incident cataract after a five-year interval and lifestyle factors: the Beaver Dam eye study

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 1999 Dec;6(4):247-55. doi: 10.1076/opep.


Context: A population-based study to investigate risk factors for age-related eye disease was begun in 1987 in a representative American community. Incidence of cataract was subsequently evaluated.

Specific objectives: To examine the relationships of cigarette smoking, alcohol, and caffeine intakes to incidence of age-related cataracts five years later.

Design: Observational epidemiologic incidence study of an adult population.

Participants and intervention: Adults 43-84 years of age were identified during a census in 1987-1988, and examined at baseline (1988-1990) and after a five-year interval (1993-1995).

Main outcome measure: Standardized protocols were used at the baseline and follow-up evaluations for exposures and for objective identification of cataracts.

Results: Cumulative incidence of nuclear cataract in right eyes was about 12%, cortical cataract about 8%, and posterior subcapsular cataract about 3%. In multivariable analyses of the general estimating equations type, there were significant associations between nuclear cataract and: pack-years smoked (odds ratio [OR] 1.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01, 1.09 per 10 pack-years); and current alcohol intake (OR 1.01, 95% CI 1.00, 1.02 per 10 grams ethanol/week). Cigarette smokers were more likely to have had cataract surgery in the interval between baseline and follow-up examinations.

Conclusions: Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption were associated with modestly increased risks of incident nuclear cataract over a five-year interval.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Caffeine / adverse effects
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lens Capsule, Crystalline / pathology
  • Lens, Crystalline / pathology
  • Life Style*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Caffeine