Lactose and cataract in humans: a review

J Am Coll Nutr. 1991 Feb;10(1):79-86. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1991.10718130.


In this review, the relationship between lactose and human cataract is examined from the presently available biochemical, metabolic, and epidemiological data. The exceptional cases of homozygous enzyme deficiency being excluded, fragmentary data give reason to believe that a risk of cataract secondary to lactose and galactose ingestion is present in certain subpopulations. In these population groups, the size of which is unknown, the lens could be exposed to intermittent episodes of hypergalactosemia due to the presence of a partial enzyme deficiency in the galactose metabolic pathway, and/or the persistence of a high adult jejunal lactase activity, and/or to a large and repeated consumption of either whole lactose or easily absorbed lactose (hydrolyzed forms and nonpasteurized yogurt).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Galactokinase / deficiency
  • Galactose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactase
  • Lactose / adverse effects*
  • Lactose / metabolism
  • Milk / adverse effects
  • UTP-Hexose-1-Phosphate Uridylyltransferase / deficiency
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Galactokinase
  • UTP-Hexose-1-Phosphate Uridylyltransferase
  • Lactase
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Lactose
  • Galactose