Frailty and age-related cataract

Ophthalmology. 2006 Dec;113(12):2209-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2006.04.035. Epub 2006 Sep 25.


Objective: To determine whether there is an association between age-related cataract and frailty that persists after controlling for visual acuity (VA) and comorbid conditions.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Participants: Two thousand three hundred seventy Beaver Dam Eye Study cohort members at 10-year (third) examination with cataract information. Ninety-nine percent of the population was Caucasian.

Methods: Medical history, blood pressures, height, weight, measures of frailty, and lens photographs were obtained during the study evaluation. Lens photographs were graded according to standardized protocols.

Main outcome measures: Four of frailty (gait time, peak expiratory flow rate, handgrip strength, chair stand) and an index combining all 4 measures.

Results: After controlling for age, age squared, comorbidity index, pack-years, sedentary lifestyle, education, and VA, nuclear cataract in women was not associated significantly with any frailty measures; in men, nuclear cataract was associated with slower gait time (P = 0.01) and a poorer frailty index score (P = 0.01) in multivariable analyses. Cortical cataract was associated in women with a lower peak expiratory flow rate (P<0.01) and in men with weaker handgrip strength (P = 0.02) and a poorer frailty index score (P</=0.01) in multivariable analyses. Posterior subcapsular cataract in women was associated significantly with a lower peak expiratory flow rate (P = 0.01). Nuclear and cortical cataract add significant information in explaining frailty index scores in men.

Conclusions: Three common types of age-related cataract are associated with some measures of frailty independent of VA and systemic comorbidities. It is possible that age-related cataract may be an indicator of general functional decline in older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Constitution
  • Cataract / classification
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Gait
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Postural Balance
  • Visual Acuity
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology