Do Beta Blocker Medications Taken for Hypertension or Glaucoma Increase Risk of Cataracts?

July 31, 2009

Patients who take beta-blockers to treat either hypertension or glaucoma have a higher incidence of cataract than people who do not take these medications according to a study published online recently in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Over 3,650 patients aged 49 years and older were evaluated at baseline with questionnaires about medications and photographs of the lens of the eye.  Two thousand four hundred and fifty-four of these patients were re-evaluated at either five, ten years or both. The association between antihypertensive medications and the 10 year incidence of cataracts were evaluated.

The researchers found that the use of either oral or topical beta-blockers had an association with nuclear cataract and significantly predicted cataract surgery. This association remained after adjusting for age, gender, blood pressure, intraocular pressure, myopia, diabetes, smoking and steroid use. The only other antihypertensive medication that showed any association was angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and that association was with incident cataract surgery

The authors note that the meaning of these findings is unclear and merit further evaluation.

Read the abstract of full article here (log in required).




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