Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for age-related cataracts in a metropolitan elderly Chinese population in Shihpai, Taipei, Taiwan. Design: Population-based cross-sectional study. Participants: A total of 2045 subjects at least 65 years of age were invited to participate, and 1361 (66.6%) participated in the survey. Methods: An eye examination, including lens opacity grading, was conducted by ophthalmologists using the Lens Opacity Classification System III (LOCS III). A structured questionnaire was used for data collection. Interviewers also collected information on subjects' blood pressure, lifestyle (cigarette smoking and alcohol intake), medical history, and waist and hip circumferences. Main Outcome Measures: Subjects were defined as having age-related cataracts if there was any type of lens opacity with an LOCS III grade of more than 2 in one or both eyes. When both eyes of an individual had age-related cataracts, the more affected eye was used for analysis. Results: Among the 1361 participants, 806 were diagnosed with age-related cataracts. The prevalence was 59.2% (95% confidence interval, 56.6%-61.8%). Women had a higher prevalence of cataracts than men (64.0% vs. 56.1%, P = 0.004). The prevalence of age-related cataracts increased with age (P = 0.001). Nuclear opacity was the most prevalent type (38.9%), followed by cortical opacity (21.9%) and posterior subcapsular opacity (9.2%). On the basis of the final logistic regression model, after controlling for all other covariates, increased age and female gender were factors that were associated with an increased risk for all types of cataracts. Besides age and gender, the most significant risk factor for nuclear cataracts was current cigarette smoking; the significant predictors for cortical cataracts were higher systolic blood pressure, a history of cigarette smoking in the past, and history of diabetes; the significant predictor for posterior subcapsular cataracts was higher systolic blood pressure. Conclusions: The increasing prevalence of age-related cataracts with age highlights the need to seek appropriate medical services and for preventative interventions. Elderly people often ignore the importance of seeking vision services and care to prevent blindness or visual impairment. These findings suggest that the elderly need to be educated regarding the importance of eye care by physicians and hygiene authorities in Taiwan.
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