Purpose: To examine whether a reported history of cataract, a possible marker of aging, is associated with future mortality.
Methods: Participants were 18,669 of the 22,071 U.S. male physicians enrolled in the Physicians' Health Study I who had complete information at study entry, including self-report of presence or absence of baseline cataract. Participants were without a previous history of myocardial infarction, stroke, transient cerebral ischemia, or cancer (except non-melanoma skin cancer). Reported deaths were confirmed by an End Points Committee of physicians.
Results: A total of 581 participants reported a personal history of cataract at baseline. During an average of 12.4 years of follow-up, there were 1,514 deaths including 496 due to cardiovascular (CV) and 1,018 due to non-CV causes. After adjustment for differences in age, men who reported cataract at baseline had a non-significant 9% increased risk of death from any cause compared to men who did not report cataract (RR, 1.09; 95% CI, 0.91-1.30). The RRs were 1.03 (95% CI, 0.75-1.41) for CV death and 1.12 (95% CI, 0.90-1.40) for non-CV death. Adjustment for other risk factors had little effect on these estimates. Similar results were obtained in analyses conducted separately among those with and without self-reported diabetes at baseline.
Conclusions: These results from a population of generally healthy physicians indicate that a report of a history of cataract is not associated with any material increase in mortality after adjustment for differences in age between men with and without cataract. Additional investigation of this cohort is in progress to determine whether incident age-related cataracts as well as their subtypes, confirmed by medical record review, are associated with increased mortality.