Further studies on allopurinol therapy and human cataractogenesis

Am J Ophthalmol. 1984 Feb;97(2):205-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(14)76091-x.


We examined 11 cataractous lenses (or aspirated lens matter from extracapsular extractions) from patients ranging in age from 55 to 84 years who used allopurinol on a long-term basis (more than two years). Phosphorescence analyses demonstrated the characteristic allopurinol triplet in these lenses. When we analyzed normal lenses from patients taking allopurinol in a similar manner we found no evidence of allopurinol photobinding. These data indicated that allopurinol has a cataractogenic action only in patients in whom the drug has become photobound within the lens. Long-term allopurinol therapy does not necessarily cause or enhance cataracts in all patients. There may be a relationship between ultraviolet radiation exposure and circulating allopurinol levels (and perhaps renal function) in the genesis of photosensitized allopurinol cataracts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Allopurinol / adverse effects*
  • Allopurinol / analysis
  • Cataract / chemically induced*
  • Gout / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / analysis
  • Lens, Crystalline / radiation effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Allopurinol