Purpose: To investigate the relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels and nuclear cataract among participants of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS), an ancillary study of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study (OS).
Methods: Nuclear cataract was assessed from slit lamp photographs (2001-2004) taken 6 years after collecting serum analyzed for 25(OH)D levels at WHI baseline (1994-1998) in 1278 CAREDS participants age 50 to 79 years. Multivariate (age, iris color, smoking, pulse pressure) odds ratios (ORs) for nuclear cataract (nuclear opacities > level 4 or cataract extraction) by quintiles of serum 25(OH)D were estimated using logistic regression.
Results: No significant association was observed between serum 25(OH)D and nuclear cataract among women of all ages (age-adjusted OR [95% confidence interval (CI)] 0.97 [0.65-1.45]). However, there was a significant age interaction (P for interaction = 0.04). There were no significant associations in the women 70 years or older. In women younger than 70 years, we observed an inverse association between serum 25(OH)D and nuclear cataract (multivariate adjusted ORs [95% CI] 0.54 [0.29-0.99] and 0.66 [0.36-1.20] for quintiles 4 and 5 vs. 1, respectively; P = 0.03). Further adjustment for 25(OH)D determinants (body mass index, vitamin D intake, and UVB exposure) attenuated this association.
Conclusions: Serum 25(OH)D levels were unrelated to nuclear opacities in this study sample. However, exploratory analyses suggest a protective association in women younger than 70 years. Further investigations of the relationship between vitamin D and nuclear lens opacities are warranted.