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SECTION 4 – Lens

Chapter 30 – Biochemical mechanisms of age-related cataract

David C Beebe,
Ying-Bo Shui,
Nancy M Holekamp

Clinical background

A cataract is any opacification of the lens. Visually significant cataracts may be present at birth or may occur at any time thereafter, but incidence increases exponentially after 50 years of age.[1] Age-related cataracts are responsible for nearly half of all blindness worldwide.[2,3]As longevity increases, the impact of cataracts on society is expected to increase. At present, surgical removal of the lens opacity with implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL) is the standard of care throughout most of the world where cataract surgery is available. Although this is usually a safe and effective treatment, intraocular surgery is an expensive and technically challenging solution for such a widespread problem. Rare but serious surgical complications include intraocular infection and inflammation and swelling of the retina (cystoid macular edema). Secondary …