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Cataracts as a perimenopause symptom

Review on November 05, 2009

menopause symptoms cataract

The many perimenopause symptoms can place a burden on a woman's life. Slowly but surely, her body functions begin to change and her daily life is often disrupted. Besides the most common perimenopause symptoms - hot flashes, night sweats, loss of libido etc - cataracts may now be considered. As aging women show an increased percentage of cataract development versus men of the same age, it is believed that the lack of estrogen may be the cause. To determine whether postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy had any significant impact on decreasing the possibility of cataract development, a study was conducted.

In the United States, cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure. Accordingly, age-related cataract can cause visual impairment and even blindness. As this dilemma is a noteworthy one, much research is needed to resolve how to resist cataracts in the aging population. One such study was conducted. The findings of the Framingham Heart Study and the Framingham Eye Study were merged to evaluate the association among the loss of estrogen and the development of a possible perimenopause symptom, cataracts.

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As the occurrence of cataracts is higher in postmenopausal women compared to men of equivalent age, it is supposed the reason is because of dropping levels of estrogen. Estrogen may be responsible for slowing the formation of cataracts. 653 women participated in a biannual analysis since 1973. Their ages ranged from 66 to 93 years. Of the participants, 529 (64%) were non-estrogen users and 191 (36%) were estrogen users. Among the estrogen users, 43 women had taken estrogen for 10 years or more.

Modifications were made for age at menopause, type of menopause, age at eye examination, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension and cigarette smoking.

After evaluating the participant's biannual results, it was reasoned that longer duration of estrogen use was associated with a lower risk of cataract development. Women who had taken estrogen for 10 years or more experienced a notably lower risk than non-estrogen users. The results also showed that estrogen use prevented not just cataracts, but other lens opacities.

The perimenopause symptoms can be devastating to a woman. Her life as she knows it suddenly deteriorates before her eyes. According to this study, loss of eye sight due to cataracts is yet another perimenopause symptom related to the loss of estrogen in postmenopausal women. Estrogen replacement therapy serves as one method to combat the prevalence of cataracts and loss of sight after menopause. As always, it is best to consult one's doctor before considering the use of hormone replacement therapy as it has its own side effects that may be worse than the actual perimenopause symptoms.

  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
  • Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.