Hep C raises risk for cataracts

Study findings published in PLoS One show patients suffering from hepatitis C (HCV) infection have an increased risk of developing cataracts. Researchers from China Medical University Hospital in Tiachung, Taiwan wanted to investigate whether HCV infection was associated with a higher risk of cataract formation.

Researchers analyzed database records of 11,652 patients with HCV and 46,608 patients without HCV and found that those with HCV were more likely to develop cataracts than those without HCV. In addition, HCV-positive patients were more likely to develop cataracts than HCV-negative patients. Patients receiving interferon-alpha/ribavirin therapy for HCV were also at an increased risk for cataracts.

Researchers believe that oxidative stress caused by the hepatitis C infection plays a role in the development of cataracts. HCV-induced stress has also been implicated in renal dysfunction and cardiovascular episodes in HCV patients. Researchers emphasize the need for routine screening for ocular problems in HCV patients, particularly those patients receiving interferon/ribavirin therpay.

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