Cataract prevalence and prevention in Europe: a literature review

Acta Ophthalmol. 2013 Aug;91(5):395-405. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2012.02444.x. Epub 2012 Jun 20.


This literature review is aimed at the evaluation of the potential for cataract prevention in Europe. It was performed using PubMed with Mesh and free-text terms. Studies included were (i) performed on a population of Caucasian origin at an age range of 40-95 years, (ii) cataract was clinically verified, (iii) drug record of prescriptions, their indication, a record of every diagnosis, dosage and quantity of prescribed medicine were available, (iv) sample size >300 and (v) published between 1990 and 2009. The results of 29 articles were reviewed. Former [3.75 (2.26-6.21)] or current smoking [2.34 (1.07-5.15)], diabetes of duration >10 years [2.72 (1.72-4.28)], asthma or chronic bronchitis [2.04 (1.04-3.81)], and cardiovascular disease [1.96 (1.22-3.14)] increased the risk of cataract. Cataract was more common in patients taking chlorpromazine during ≥90 days with a dosage ≥300 mg [8.8 (3.1-25.1)] and corticosteroids >5 years [3.25 (1.39-7.58)] in a daily dose >1600 mg [1.69 (1.17-2.43)]. Intake of a multivitamin/mineral formulation [2.00 (1.35-2.98)] or corticosteroids [2.12 (1.93-2.33)] also increased the risk of cataract. Corticosteroids applied orally [3.25 (1.39-7.58)], parenteral [1.56 (1.34-1.82)] or inhalational [1.58 (1.46-1.71)] lead to cataract more frequently than those applied topically: nasal [1.33 (1.21-1.45)], ear [1.31 (1.19-1.45)] or skin [1.43 (1.36-1.50)]. Outpatient cataract surgery was negatively associated with total cataract surgery costs, and chlorpromazine, corticosteroids and multivitamin/mineral formation increase the risk of posterior subcapsular cataract dependent on dose, treatment application and duration. This review presented a comprehensive overview of specific and general cataract risk factors and an update on most recent experimental studies and randomized control trials directed at cataract prevention.

Keywords: Europe; adverse effect; cataract; cataract surgery; costs; epidemiology; medications; prevention; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cataract* / diagnosis
  • Cataract* / epidemiology
  • Cataract* / prevention & control
  • Early Diagnosis*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors