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Antihypertensive Drugs Associated With Cataracts

Last Updated: July 23, 2009.

Patients treated with beta blockers for hypertension are more likely than their counterparts not using the drugs to develop cataracts and require cataract surgery, according to a study published online July 23 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated with beta blockers for hypertension are more likely than their counterparts not using the drugs to develop cataracts and require cataract surgery, according to a study published online July 23 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Gowri L. Kanthan, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,654 people aged 49 years and above who were examined at baseline, of whom 2,454 were examined again after five years, 10 years, or both. The subjects' eyes were examined and they provided information on medication use.

There was a borderline association between the use of oral or topical beta blockers and nuclear cataracts, and both types of drugs were a significant predictor of incident cataract surgery, the investigators found. The association persisted after adjusting for confounding factors such as age, gender, blood pressure and intraocular pressure. The authors further note that cataract incidence and surgery were not predicted by any other antihypertensive medication except angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, which were associated with incident cataract surgery.

"Given the limitations and the possibility of various biases in our study, these findings should be interpreted with caution," the authors write. "Nevertheless, the biological plausibility for an association between beta-blocker use and cataract, and the internal consistency of this finding for use of both oral and topical beta blockers, warrants further study."

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