A Complex Association Between Obesity and Incident Cataract

Pavankumar Kamat


November 25, 2021


  • Obesity, defined by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and trunk fat percentage, was associated with a higher incidence of cataract, independent of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and other covariates.

  • An inverse association was observed between obesity and incident cataract in patients with diabetes.

Why this matters

  • Findings warrant further research to investigate the mechanisms underlying the inverse association between obesity and cataract in patients with diabetes.

Study design

  • The study included 153,139 participants (age, 40-70 years) from the UK Biobank (2006-2010).

  • Funding: Fundamental Research Funds of the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology and others.

Key results

  • During a median follow-up of 10.9 years, 15,255 cases of incident cataract were reported.

  • Obesity defined by BMI was associated with an increased risk of incident cataract (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.21; 95% CI, 1.16-1.26), and this association diminished but remained significant after adjustment for HbA1c (aHR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.00-1.10).

  • After adjustment for HbA1c and other covariates, obesity defined by waist circumference (aHR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01-1.08) and waist-to-hip ratio (aHR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.04-1.13) was associated with a higher risk of incident cataract.

  • Obesity defined by fat percentage was associated with a higher risk of incident cataract (aHR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.08-1.15), but the risk was not significant after adjustment for covariates (aHR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98-1.06).

  • A significant positive association was seen between obesity defined by BMI and incident cataract in individuals with normal HbA1c (aHR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.13), and a significant inverse association was seen in those with prediabetes (aHR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.67-0.96) or diabetes (aHR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.61-0.89).


  • Observational design.


Shang X, Zhu Z, Zhang X, Huang Y, Tan Z, Wang W, Tang S, Ge Z, Shi D, Jiang Y, Yang X, He M. Adiposity by Differing Measures and the Risk of Cataract in the UK Biobank: The Importance of Diabetes. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2021;62(14):19. doi: 10.1167/iovs.62.14.19. PMID: 34797907 download_resource.label.link 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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