June 15, 2004
Cataracts, a clouding of
the normally clear lens of the eye, affect one in every seven people
in the U.S. In fact, by the age of 80, more than half of all Americans
will develop a cataract.
While age is one of the largest predictors of cataracts, studies
have shown that postmenopausal women may have a higher risk of cataracts
than menstruating women. Some researchers theorize that, like age-related
macular degeneration, the reason for this is the diminished production
of estrogen that occurs at midlife and beyond. Similarly, recent
data also suggests a strong correlation between women with cataracts
and cardiovascular, respiratory, and other non-cancer causes of
In a study from the April 2002 issue of the British Journal of
Ophthalmology, researchers looked at a pre-selected group of
people aged 65 and older in London. They followed the group for
four years and compared age- and sex-specific mortality rates in
people with and without cataracts. They found that cataracts were
significantly associated with higher mortality rates in non-diabetic
women, but not men.
I find this study very interesting, as it suggests that the free
radical damage that initiates the development of cataracts may be
simultaneously causing destructive changes in other organ systems.
This is particularly true during postmenopause, when both cataract
formation and conditions such as atherogenesis (deterioration of
the arteries), both linked to free radical damage, begin to accelerate.
Thus, cataracts may be a useful early warning sign of a process
that is occurring throughout the body.
Read More on Vision:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Age-related
Antioxidants for AMD and Cataracts
Red Light Therapy for Macular Degeneration
Ozone Therapy for Macular Degeneration
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