Study Finds No Link between Asthma Treatment and Risk of Cataracts

New York, NY – According to a recent study, children who take inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in recommended doses are not at higher risk for developing cataracts as young adults. The study was conducted by a group of researchers led by Dr. Hengameh H. Raissy from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. It is the longest study to date regarding the development of cataracts in children taking ICS for extended periods of time.

The study was prompted by initial findings from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). In 2000, researchers began evaluating 955 children participating in CAMP. The children were divided into a placebo group and two treatment groups prescribed recommended dosages of ICS medications plus occasional oral prednisone bursts. After following the children for 4-6 years, there were no measurable signs of cataracts on any of the patients.

However, in 2005, three children in the ICS group began displaying “barely measurable” signs of posterior subcapsular cataracts. One of the children required cataract surgery to correct the condition.

As a result, researchers began conducting more thorough cataract examinations on many of the other CAMP subjects.  Out of 232 patients evaluated, 16 exhibited signs of cataracts; 12 of these had posterior cataracts. The proportion of patients evaluated was the same in the control and treatment groups.

The findings did not point to a link between ICS use and an increased risk of cataracts. However, researchers indicated that this study did not rule out the possibility of high daily doses of ICS medications contributing to an increased risk of cataracts. Additional studies would need to be conducted to conclusively rule out such a link.