PURPOSE: Women are at higher risk for age-related cataract than men, and it has been hypothesized that this difference is due in part to gender-related hormonal differences. METHODS: We investigated the association between postmenopausal hormone use and lens opacities in a population of 480 postmenopausal women from the Nurses' Health Study for whom we had prospectively collected exposure data. Participants received standardized eye exams; the Lens Opacity Classification System III (LOCS III) was used to measure the degree of opacification. RESULTS: A total of 342 women had some opacity in one or both eyes. Overall, we did not observe a significant association between current hormone use and presence of any type of opacity (compared to never users, multivariate relative risk: 0.85; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.54-1.34). In ordinal logistic regression compared to never users, current hormone users had multivariate relative risks of cortical opacities of 0.80 (95% CI: 0.54-1.19) and for past users the relative risk was 0.76 (95% CI: 0.48-1.22). For nuclear opacities, the comparable relative risk for current use of hormones was 0.77 (95% CI: 0.52-1.13), and for past use the relative risk was 1.48 (95% CI: 0.92-2.34). Current use of estrogen-only preparations was associated with a 49% decreased risk of nuclear opacities compared to never use (multivariate relative risk 0.51, 95% CI: 0.29-0.89). CONLUSIONS: While the overall findings are null, they do not exclude the possibility of a protective effect, particularly among current estrogen users.
- Cataract incidence
- Postmenopausal hormone use