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Association of cataract and sun exposure in geographically diverse populations of India: The CASE study. First Report of the ICMR-EYE SEE Study Group

posted on 23.01.2020, 18:35 authored by Praveen Vashist, Radhika Tandon, G. V. S. Murthy, C. K. Barua, Dipali Deka, Sachchidanand Singh, Vivek Gupta, Noopur Gupta, Meenakshi Wadhwani, Rashmi Singh, K. Vishwanath


To determine the prevalence of cataract and its association with sun exposure and other environmental risk factors in three different geographically diverse populations of India.


Population based cross sectional study during 2010–2016


People aged ≥ 40 years residing in randomly sampled villages were enumerated (12021) and 9735 (81%) underwent ophthalmic evaluation from plains, hilly and coastal regions (3595, 3231, 2909 respectively)


A detailed questionnaire-based interview about outdoor activity in present, past and remote past, usage of sun protective measures, exposure to smoke, and detailed ophthalmic examination including assessment of uncorrected and best corrected visual acuity, measurement of intraocular pressure, slit lamp examination, lens opacities categorization using LOCS III and posterior segment evaluation was done. Lifetime effective sun exposure was calculated using Melbourne formula and expressed as quintiles. These were supplemented with physical environmental measurements.

Main outcome measures

Lifetime sun exposure hours, smoking, indoor kitchen smoke exposure and their association with cataract and subtypes. Prevalence of cataract calculated based on lens opacities or evidence of cataract surgery.


Cataract was identified in 3231 (33.3%) participants. Prevalence of cataract in males (32.3%) and females (34.1%) was similar. Nuclear cataract was the commonest sub-type identified in 94.7% of affected eyes. Sun exposure had a significant association with cataract with odds ratio (OR) increasing from 1.6 (95% Confidence Intervals [CI]: 1.4, 1.9) in 3rd quintile, to 2.6 (CI: 2.2, 3.1) in 4th quintile and 9.4 (CI: 7.9, 11.2) in 5th quintile (p<0.0001). Cataract also showed a significant association with smoking (OR: 1.4, CI: 1.2, 1.6) and indoor kitchen smoke exposure (OR: 1.2, CI: 1.0–1.4). Nuclear cataract showed a positive association with increasing sun exposure in 3rd (β coefficient 0.5, CI:0.2–0.7), 4th (β: 0.9, CI: 0.7–1.1) and 5th (β: 2.1, CI:1.8–2.4) quintiles of sun exposure, smoking (β: 0.4, CI: 0.2–0.6) and indoor kitchen smoke exposure (β: 0.3, CI: 01–0.5) while cortical cataract showed a positive association with sun exposure only in 5th quintile (β: 2.6, CI:1.0–4.2). Posterior subcapsular cataract was not associated with any of the risk factors.


Cataract is associated with increasing level of sun exposure, smoking and exposure to indoor kitchen smoke.