12 March 2010
Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is associated with an increased risk of cataract development, researchers warn.
In a prospective cohort study (a study that tracks a group of people forward in time) of more than 30,000 Swedish women aged 40 to 83 years, past users of HRT had a 14 per cent increased risk of cataract surgery (Ophthalmology 2010; 117: 424-30).
Current users had an 18 per cent increased risk of cataract, and the risk increased with longer duration of HRT.
Higher alcohol intake seemed to potentiate the harmful effect of HRT, with those who consumed on average more than one alcoholic drink per day and were current HRT users having a 42 per cent greater risk of cataract extraction (surgical removal of the cataract) than non-drinkers who were not using HRT.
The researchers said their findings matched the association seen in other observational studies, including the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study.
Other studies, notably from the US, have not shown such an association, but this might reflect the different types of HRT used in the population, they said.
A higher prevalence of cataract has been observed in women who have been through menopause compared to men of the same age, suggesting a relationship between oestrogen and cataract development, they said.
Last Reviewed: 12 March 2010