A new study out of South Korea suggests people who have asthma or frequent hay fever are at a greater risk of dealing with cataracts later in life. Study authors hope this research will encourage more funding to go into studying this correlation and developing preventative treatment measures.
Researchers examined the records from almost 15,000 patients in the KNHANES-V health survey between 2010 and 2012. They found that hay fever and asthma patients were 50 percent more likely to get cataracts than the general public.
Of the roughly 15,000 patients, 1,140 suffered frequent bouts of hay fever, 417 had asthma, and 143 had eczema. All of the patients observed in this study were at least nineteen years old.
Although researchers studied eczema patients, they didn't notice a correlation with cataracts. Professors also noted that there were no serious connections between any of these conditions and glaucoma.
Doctors believe asthma and hay fever patients are more susceptible to cataracts because of the steroid treatments they are often prescribed. People suffering extreme hay fever are often given steroid nose sprays while people with asthma are often prescribed oral steroid pills to manage symptoms. Although doctors don't know why, steroid use has been associated with cataracts in many previous studies.
Head researchers on this study include Drs. Young Bok Lee, Min Ji Kang, and Kyung Do Han. All three of these professors work at the prestigious Catholic University of Korea.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAI) estimates that there are 300 million asthma patients around the world. Unfortunately, the AAAI believes these numbers will rise by about 100 million in less than a decade.
Children who are exposed to a great deal of air pollution are at an increased risk of developing asthma. Typical warning signs of this pulmonary disorder include difficulty breathing, sudden chest pain, and a severe cough. Depending on the severity of the case, asthma can be managed with inhalers or oral steroids.
Hay fever, officially known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction often related to the change in seasons. Common symptoms of hay fever include red eyes, nasal congestion, and increased coughing. Usually doctors prescribe antihistamines to help patients manage symptoms.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin disorder that causes red, itchy rashes. The disease is usually passed down genetically, but it could be triggered by certain allergens. People with severe cases of eczema might need steroidal creams.
Cataracts is the number one cause of preventable blindness around the world. People with cataracts often experience hazy vision due to a clouding over of their eyes' lenses. If left untreated, cataracts can cause complete vision loss.
While cataract surgery is a relatively standard practice in eye care, many patients in third world countries don't have access to quality eye doctors. About 12.6 million people around the world are blind due to cataracts and another 52.6 million are living with severe visual impairment because of the disease.
To read more about this research, check out the latest edition of The Journal of Dermatology. The title of this research paper was, "Association between allergic diseases and ophthalmologic diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma, using the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2010–2012: A STROBE-compliant article."