Older, wiser, and a little blurrier – must be those cataracts! Cataracts are an incredibly common cause of decreased vision across the world, especially among older individuals. Researchers in Beaver Dam Eye Study set out to gather longitudinal data to better investigate characteristics associated with cataract development in order to shed light on areas of greater social and health care needs. This prospective epidemiologic study utilized census data of 2764 participants living in a rural town in the midwestern United States in order to determine the incidence of age-related cataracts and cataract surgery over a 10-year period. Lenses of participants were photographed and graded according to standardized protocol at baseline, 5 years, and 10 years.
The Beaver Dam Eye Study is a critical piece of literature in the epidemiology of cataract development as it provided long-term data to better appreciate the role of age and gender in cataract progression. Its contributions to the early understanding of the incidence and prevalence of different lens opacities make it landmark study in ophthalmology.
- In both men and women, 10-year incidence of both cataract (nuclear, cortical, and/or posterior subcapsular) and cataract surgery increased with age.
- The greatest increase in incidence for nuclear sclerotic cataract was seen in those 55 to 64 years old (at baseline).
- Compared to men, women were found to be at increased risk of both nuclear sclerotic cataracts and cataract surgery (P< 0.0001).