Association Between HBV, HCV and Age-Related Cataracts

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Cataract-related claims account for about 60% of eye care charges in Medicare population in the US.
Cataract-related claims account for about 60% of eye care charges in Medicare population in the US.

According to research in Scientific Reports, the occurrence of age-related cataracts is associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus C (HCV) infection.

Liver dysfunction is a known significant risk factor for cataract formation, and the liver-damaging effects of HBV and HCV are hypothesised to play a role as well. To test this, associations between hepatitis and cataracts were tested along with any mediation of these associations by the liver damage serum markers aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). 

Data from 10,037 participants age ≥40 years acquired in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2010 to 2012, were examined, and an association between cataracts and HBV and HCV was found. A total of 386 patients (3.9%) were infected with HBV, and 41 (1.3%) of 3166 people tested for HCV were infected.

After adjustments for confounding factors (age, sex, smoking amount, alcohol consumption, metabolic equivalence task, education, household income, diabetes, obesity, sun exposure, and family history of eye diseases), the prevalence of nuclear or any cataract was significantly higher for those with HBV and HCV. Compared with uninfected individuals, nuclear and any cataract prevalence in patients with HBV were as follows, respectively: 23.2% vs 28.8% (P <.001) and 39.6% vs 44.9% (P <.01). Compared with uninfected individuals, nuclear and any cataract prevalence in patients with HCV was as follows, respectively: 26.5% vs 58.1% and 47.3% vs 77.7% (P <.001 for both).

Mediation tests showed the relationship between HBV infection and any cataract was mediated significantly by high AST and borderline significantly by high ALT. However, no significant mediation effects were found between HBV and nuclear cataract. Similarly, no significant relationship was found by AST or ALT on HCV infection with nuclear and any cataract. Goodness of fit measurements for all models indicated good approximate model fit.

These results showed an association between HBV and HCV and age-related cataracts, suggesting that these individuals should undergo routine examinations of ocular health. However, not all associations between hepatitis and cataracts were explained by liver damage, and therefore further studies into the mechanisms behind these relationships are required. 

Reference

Park S, Choi NK. Hepatitis virus infection and age-related cataract. Sci Rep. 2017;7:13089.

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