• Written By: Anna Singh, MD
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Glaucoma

    Since antihypertensive agents may alter normal lens physiology and result in cataract formation, the authors of this study assessed the association between antihypertensive medication use and the long-term incidence of both cataract and cataract surgery among 3,654 participants in the Blue Mountains Eye Study aged 49 or older. At the 5 and 10-year follow-up, 2,454 participants were re-examined. Questionnaires on medications usage, and lens photographs were taken and graded at each visit.

    At 10 years,  use of either oral or topical beta-blockers had a borderline association with nuclear cataract (OR 1.45 and OR 2.12, respectively) and significantly predicted incident cataract surgery (OR 1.61 and OR 3.09, respectively) after adjusting for age, gender, blood pressure, IOP, myopia, diabetes, smoking and steroid use. Apart from an association between angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and incident cataract surgery (OR 1.70), no other antihypertensive medications predicted incident cataract or cataract surgery. The authors conclude that the use of oral or topical beta-blockers might be associated with an increased risk of incident nuclear cataract or need for cataract surgery.

    However they also stress that the final verdict on the link between beta-blockers and cataracts is far from certain. In fact, some studies have found no connection between glaucoma drugs and cataract formation.

    Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Singh has no financial interests to disclose.