HRT reduces risk of cataracts

Hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women may benefit the eyes as well as preventing brittle bones, researchers said yesterday. A study in Spain found a reduced incidence of lens opacity, a precursor of age-related cataract, in post-menopausal women taking oestrogen.

Cataracts, which cause cloudiness and hardening of the lens of the eye, are a leading cause of blindness and affect 90 per cent of people aged over 75. Scientists have long suspected that female hormones may play a role in the development of age-related cataracts, since more women suffer from them than men.

Scientists from the Ramon Castroviejo Institute in Madrid examined the eyes of 19 post-menopausal women taking oestrogen, 23 post-menopausal women not taking oestrogen, and 23 men.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the American journal Ophthalmology, found that the women taking oestrogen had significantly less lens opacity compared with the other groups.