The People's Perspective on Medicine

Reducing Risk for Cataracts

Common medications may increase the risk for cataracts. Investigators at the University of Wisconsin studied records from more than 2000 patients over a span of 15 years. People who took drugs that can sensitize the skin or eyes to sun damage were a little more likely to come down with cortical cataracts. Some of the drugs included the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, which is frequently found in medications to treat hypertension. The popular over-the-counter pain reliever naproxen was also implicated. Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, the diabetes drug glyburide and a drug called amitriptyline, which is prescribed for nerve pain and depression, were other contributors. The lead investigator downplayed the significance of the data because she did not want to scare people.

A different study from the University of Wisconsin found that women who did not smoke, maintained a healthy weight and ate lots of vegetables and fruits had an almost 40 percent lower risk of developing cataracts. If you must take medicine that increases the risk of sunburn or cataracts, it makes sense to stay out of the midday sun, and wear a hat and UV blocking sunglasses. Eating leafy greens and other vegetables is good for your heart, your brain and probably your eyes.

[Archives of Ophthalmology, June and August 2010]

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    Should we assume that medications such as lomotil and homeopathics that contain atropine or belladonna that dilate the eyes should also mean staying away from bright light and noon time sun? This would also apply to Kava Kava .

    Mom always said, “Eat your vegetables!” So here is another reason to listen to her advice and avoid cataracts. I would like to make a comment on the picture with this article. I can understand the sunglasses and hat BUT the necktie????? Thanks for the “laugh for the day”. For thirty years I have gained so much from this column. Thank you, mmc

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^