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Cataract News

AAAAI: No Connection Between Nasal Sprays And Cataracts

MILWAUKEE, WI -- May 12, 2000 -- Intranasal corticosteroids, prescription nasal sprays commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever," do not increase the risk for developing cataracts according to a study by U.S. and British researchers in the May Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Allergic rhinitis affects more than 35 million Americans, and intranasal corticosteroids are one of the most effective medical treatments currently available. Intranasal corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation and immune responses to allergens, substances such as pollen, dust mite particles and pet dander to which a person is sensitive. Long-term use of oral corticosteroids for controlling extremely severe asthma has been linked to an increased risk for ocular side effects, including cataracts. Oral corticosteroids can also be used to control severe allergic rhinitis and moderate to severe asthma exacerbations.

In this study, researchers examined medical records in the United Kingdom's General Practice Research Database, a national computerized database of patient records used for research. Researchers included 286,078 patient records in the study, of which 88,301 were intranasal corticosteroid users, 98,901 were oral corticosteroid users and 98,786 people that were not exposed to either form of corticosteroid. Researchers found 1,059 cases of cataracts, of which 217 were in the intranasal corticosteroid group, 629 were in the oral corticosteroid group and 213 were in the group unexposed to corticosteroids. The incidence rate of cataracts for the intranasal corticosteroid group and the unexposed group was 1.0 per 1,000 people. The incidence rate for the oral corticosteroid group was 2.2 per 1,000 people.

Researchers also compared the incidence rate of cataracts with the number of prescriptions a subject had received. For intranasal corticosteroid users, the incidence rate of cataracts did not increase significantly with increasing numbers of prescriptions. The incidence rate was 0.9 per 1,000 people for subjects with two to nine prescriptions. The rate was 1.0 per 1,000 people for people with ten or more prescriptions. Conversely, researchers found the risk of cataracts increased with an increasing number of oral corticosteroid prescriptions. For those with two to four prescriptions the incidence rate was 1.2 per 1,000 people. The incidence rate was 2.1 per 1,000 people for subjects with five to nine prescriptions. For those with ten or more prescriptions, the incidence rate for cataracts climbed to 4.6 per 1,000 people.

Researchers concluded that there was no increased risk of cataracts associated with the use of intranasal corticosteroids. By contrast, oral corticosteroid use was associated with an increased risk or cataracts. Researchers felt their results provided additional reassurance about the safety of prescribing intranasal corticosteroids for the treatment of allergic rhinitis.

The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than 6,000 members in the U.S., Canada and 60 other countries.

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Last Updated on Saturday, August 12, 2000 12:49:07 PM