People who inhale corticosteroid drugs, such as asthmatics, may be at increased risk for developing cataracts, a loss of transparency of the eye's lens. Steroid drugs taken by injection have previously been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, but this is one of the first studies to associate cataract development with inhaled steroid drugs.
Cataracts affecting the central (nuclear) area of the lens were 50% more prevalent among those who used or currently inhale steroids compared with people who never used the drugs. Cataracts affecting the back (posterior) surface of the lens are the most visually disabling type and were 90% more prevalent among steroid users.
The New England Journal of Medicine (1997;337:8-14, 46-48)