Cataracts Linked To UV Radiation

When Harry McVickar began developing cataracts in the early 1990's, it was like "looking through a milky light bulb," reports CBS News Correspondent John Roberts.

His cataract surgery, at New York Presbyterian Hospital, was one of thousands performed each year.

"If you look at the data, it's one of the most common surgeries performed in this country," says Dr. Ken Carnevale of New York Presbyterian.

A new study shows that like thousands of other cataracts, it may have been due to occasional exposure to the sun, specifically Ultraviolet-B radiation. The study found that the people who spent the most time in the sun were 60% more likely to develop cataracts than those who spent the least amount of time.

Previous studies of people who work outside have found an increase in cataracts, but this was the first study done on the general population.

Limiting the exposure -- and damage -- is as easy as wearing a hat and glasses.

Researchers say the effects of UVB radiation on the eye are cumulative -- that is, they are the effects of a lifetime. And that there really is no safe level of sun exposure.

Reported by John Roberts
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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