In a new study published on March 7, 2017 by PLoS One, a team of researchers from the Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Science in Taiwain, led by principal investigator Ji-An Liang, MD, found that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) increases cataract risk, particularly if treated with interferon-ribavirin.
Currently, between 2.7 and 3.9 million individuals in the United States alone are infected with HCV, which has previously been linked to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, as well as cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic disorders. The aforementioned study, however, is the first to link hepatitis C and cataracts.
Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, affecting more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older affected, and half of all Americans over the age of 80, according to the National Eye Institute. Researchers found that patients with HCV were 1.36 times more likely than non-HCV patients to develop cataracts. Additionally:
Women were also found to be at higher risk than men.
HCV patients aged 50 to 64 were 9.23 times more likely to develop cataracts than younger patients.
HCV patients receiving interferon and ribavirin combination therapy were 1.83 times more likely to develop cataracts.
HCV patients only receiving interferon were 1.29 times more likely to develop cataracts.
Liang and his team utilized the National Health Insurance (NHI) database of Taiwan, which is a medical database comprised of 23 million people, 11,652 of which were HCV patients. As a control, the team also used 46,608 non-infected patients.
The researchers also were sure to point out that their findings do not mean patients should not seek treatment for hepatitis C. “Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery performed in the United States today,” according to the National Eye Institute.
“The dangers posed by untreated HCV infection outweighs the uncommon risk of surgically treatable and non-life threatening cataracts,” writes Daniel Holland, PharmD, a graduate and medical writer from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. Rather, “monitoring and counseling should include eye testing,”
Cataract Treatment in Annapolis, Maryland
The Anne Arundel Eye Center (AAEC) is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. A consultation with board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles will help guide you through the treatment process and help you determine the best course of action.
Dr. Boles utilizes the LenSx® Laser, the most technologically advanced option for cataract patients today, to create a cataract surgery that’s 100% unique to each patient.
Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, AAEC’s state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Samuel Boles, Dr. Nicole Kershner Regis, Dr. Kathryn Turner, and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010. AAEC is staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals who will help guide you on your healing journey.