There may be a connection between hepatitis C (HCV) and cataract development, according to a recent study. Researchers performed a population-based study with 11,652 HCV-infected patients for just over five years. The participants were registered with the National Health Insurance (NHI) database of Taiwan and were matched against a control group of correlating age and gender.
The research team found that the HCV-infected patients were 1.36 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-HCV infected patients. Furthermore, patients who were undergoing a specific treatment with interferon-ribavirin therapy were at the greatest risk of developing cataracts, at a rate of 1.83 times higher than those who were not infected with HCV. Even though the team found that this therapy increased risk of cataract development, the researchers did not discourage the use of interferon-ribavirin therapy.
The team stated, “Considering the surgical curability of cataract and serious HCV infection-related morbidity, we do not discourage the use of anti-HCV therapy for HCV-infected patients,” they wrote. “Instead, we recommend routine screening of these HCV patients for ocular problems, especially those who received interferon alpha–ribavirin therapy.”
The team is still working to determine the exact connection between these two seemingly unrelated conditions. What they know thus far is this: HCV is thought to increase oxidative stress, which can affect multiple body systems. Cataract development is linked to oxidative stress, but there are few studies about the association between these two conditions to provide guidance in the research (Source: Hepatitis News Today).