Sunlight and other risk factors for cataracts: an epidemiologic study

Am J Public Health. 1988 Nov;78(11):1459-62. doi: 10.2105/ajph.78.11.1459.


A case control study was conducted in North Carolina to explore the relation between individual exposure to sunlight and the risk of cataracts. One hundred thirteen cases and 161 controls aged 40-69 at diagnosis were studied. Sunlight exposure was inferred from interview data on residency and time spent in the sun, combined with solar radiation data from the National Climatic Data Center. Sunlight exposure was very slightly related to all types of opacities combined. Although the numbers of cases with each type of opacity was small, the risk of cataracts was slightly increased in medium and high exposure categories for persons having cortical or posterior subcapsular opacities only, but not nuclear sclerotic changes. Persons with dark brown or hazel eyes are at increased risk. An unexpected finding was that persons who reported using tranquilizers for six months were at increased risk.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*