Purpose: To investigate the relations between socioeconomic factors and the prevalence of age-related cataract, maculopathy, and visual impairment.
Methods: A population-based sample of 4926 people 43 to 86 years of age was examined from 1988 to 1990. Education, income, employment status, marital status, nuclear sclerosis, cortical, and posterior subcapsular cataract, age-related maculopathy, and impaired vision were all ascertained using standard protocols.
Results: While controlling for age, sex, diabetes status, multivitamin use, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking, less education was significantly associated with nuclear and cortical cataract, and lower income was significantly associated with cortical and posterior subcapsular cataract and impaired vision. There was a "U-shaped" relation between income and cataract surgery. Neither income nor education was related to age-related maculopathy. There was no relation of marital status to cataract status or age-related maculopathy.
Conclusion: These data suggest that education and income are associated with cataract, cataract surgery, and impaired vision. These relations were not explained by other risk factors measured in the study.