High Blood Sugars Lead to Increased Cataract Risk in African-Americans

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A study published in the January 1999 issue of the journal Ophthalmology revealed that proper control of blood glucose could significantly reduce cortical cataracts in people of African descent.

Cortical cataracts involve a clouding of the lens of the eye. According to Christina Leske, MD, of the State University of New York, Stony Brook, diabetes contributes to cortical cataracts “through metabolic mechanisms involving the sorbitol pathways.” The excess blood glucose that occurs in diabetes is reduced to a sugar alcohol called sorbitol which tends to accumulate. “This leads to swelling of lens fibers, followed by cortical cataracts.”

Leske says that African-Americans are at higher risk for diabetes than Caucasians; therefore, they are at higher risk for cataracts than whites.

“Better diabetes control reduces excess blood sugars,” says Leske. “This, in turn, could reduce the likelihood of African-Americans developing cataracts.”

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