Objective: To evaluate a possible association between estrogen and lens opacities.
Design: A prevalence survey of age-related eye disease.
Setting: Beaver Dam, Wis.
Participants: A total community sample of persons 43 through 84 years of age at the time of a private census were recruited for examination, medical history, and photographs of the lenses of the eyes. Data from women are included in this report.
Main outcome measures: Photographs were graded by protocol for the presence and severity of age-related lens opacities.
Results: Current use of postmenopausal estrogens was associated with a decreased risk of more severe nuclear sclerosis. Younger age at menarche was also associated with a protective effect regarding nuclear sclerosis. Older age at menopause was associated with a decreased risk of cortical opacities.
Conclusion: These data are suggestive of a modest protective effect of estrogen exposure on the lenses of women. Further evaluation of this may be possible in studies currently under way in which postmenopausal estrogens are being tested for other (protective) effects.