Posterior subcapsular cataracts in steroid-requiring asthmatic children

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1979 Jun;63(6):383-6. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(79)90210-0.


Slit-lamp examinations were performed on 24 children and adolescents with severe asthma, all of whom had received steroids for at least 365 days. Posterior subcapsular cataracts (PSCC) were detected in 7 (29.1%). None of the patients had been treated with beclomethasone. All 7 of the patients with PSCC were in the subgroup of 14 patients who had been on the highest doses of corticosteroid, 10 mg or more per day, for the longest period of time. The 7 children with PSCC were all below the fifth percentile for height and had fallen away from their normal growth curve. Of the 17 children in whom PSCC were not detected, only 1 was below the fifth percentile for height. It would seem from our results that the steroid-requiring asthmatic who is growth-suppressed is at an increased risk for developing PSCC. We have documented the reversal of PSCC in 2 children. Both of these children had been placed on beclomethasone, which allowed for the discontinuation of daily prednisone in one case and a reduction to less than 10 mg per day of prednisone in the other. The reversal occurred within 6 months of starting on beclomethasone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Beclomethasone / therapeutic use
  • Body Height
  • Cataract / complications*
  • Cataract / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Beclomethasone
  • Prednisone