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Accumulated lead exposure may be an important risk factor for cataracts

likelihood of cataract in the highest vs. lowest quintile, but the trend was not significant. Blood lead levels, more indicative of short-term exposure levels, were not significantly associated with cataract.

" generalized low lead exposure along with pockets of higher exposure remain commonplace, including in the United States where more than 80 percent of homes built before 1980 are contaminated by lead-based paint and/or leaded water pipes. Results of the present study suggest that cumulative lead exposure is a risk factor for cataract, which accounts for more than 40 percent of all cases of blindness worldwide," the authors write. They add that expenditures for cataract surgery comprise the largest single line item in the Medicare budget.

"These are, to our knowledge, the first data suggesting that accumulated lead exposure, such as that commonly experienced by adults in the United States, may be an important, unrecognized risk factor for cataract. This research suggests that reduction of lead exposure could help decrease the global burden of cataract," the authors conclude.


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Contact: Melanie Franco
617-534-1605
JAMA and Archives Journals
7-Dec-2004


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