Objectives: Exposure to sunlight may be a risk factor for the development of cataract. The relationships between exposure to sunlight and to the ultraviolet-B (UVB) component of light and the prevalence of lens opacities were examined in the Beaver Dam Eye Study.
Methods: Persons 43 to 84 years of age residing in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, were examined using standardized photographic assessments of lens opacities. A questionnaire about medical history and exposure to light was administered.
Results: After adjusting for other risk factors, men who had higher levels of average annual ambient UVB light were 1.36 times more likely to have more severe cortical opacities than men with lower levels. However, UVB exposure was not found to be associated with nuclear sclerosis or posterior subcapsular opacities in men. Moreover, no associations with UVB exposure were found for women, who were less likely to be exposed to UVB.
Conclusions: Exposure to UVB light may be associated with the severity of cortical opacities in men. However, the lack of an association in women, the group more likely to have cortical opacities, suggests that other factors may be more important in the pathogenesis of lens opacities.