Risk of cataract surgery higher in HIV positive compared to HIV negative people

Richard Jefferys, TAG

A population-based study carried out in Denmark to assess the risk of cataract surgery among HIV positive individuals compared to large group of matched HIV negative controls.

Risk was found to be greater among the HIV positive population, with the highest risk among those with CD4 T cell counts below 200 (either on or off ART). Individuals on ART with CD4 T cell counts over 200 still showed a higher risk than both the general population and HIV-positive people with over 200 CD4 T cells who had not yet started ART; the authors note this could reflect a contribution of drug side effects or receipt of ART could be acting as a marker for having reached a stage of illness requiring treatment (which in turn is associated with an elevated cataract risk).

Supporting the latter possibility, no association with specific antiretroviral drugs was found. Although the researchers do not claim that their data represents evidence of accelerated ageing in the HIV positive population, they acknowledge that such a phenomenon “cannot be excluded as a possible part of the explanation.”

Source: TAG Basic Science web log. (1 November 2011).


Rasmussen LD et al. Risk of cataract surgery in HIV-infected individuals: a Danish nationwide population-based cohort study. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]

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