Objective: To estimate the incidence of nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular cataract in the Beaver Dam Eye Study cohort.
Design: A population-based study of the prevalence of age-related eye diseases was conducted between 1988 and 1990 (n=4926), and a follow-up study was conducted between 1993 and 1995 (n=3684). The evaluations included photographic documentation of the lens. Slitlamp photographs were taken to assess nuclear opacity, and retroillumination photographs were taken to assess cortical and posterior subcapsular cataract. The grading of photographs was done in a masked manner by trained graders using the same protocols for baseline and follow-up photographs. The graders were the same for both evaluations.
Participants: Persons aged 43 to 86 years who were identified through a private census conducted from 1987 to 1988 of the population of Beaver Dam, Wis, were invited for a baseline examination held between 1988-1990 and again for a follow-up examination held between 1993-1995.
Results: Incident nuclear cataract occurred in 13.1%, cortical cataract in 8.0%, and posterior subcapsular cataract in 3.4% of right eyes. The cumulative incidence of nuclear cataract in right eyes increased from 2.9% in persons aged 43 to 54 years at baseline to 40.0% in those aged 75 years or older. For cortical and posterior subcapsular cataract, the corresponding values were 1.9% and 21.8% and 1.4% and 7.3%, respectively. Women were more likely than men to have nuclear cataract even after adjusting for age.
Conclusions: Incident cataracts are common age-related problems, and incidence increases with increasing age at baseline. These data will help in planning for future care (eg, cataract surgery and change in spectacle correction) and in investigating the importance of risk factors.