Abnormal serum lipoprotein levels as a risk factor for the development of human lenticular opacities
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Aim: To determine whether an association exists between the different plasma lipoprotein constituents and the prevalence of lenticular opacities in dyslipidaemic subjects. Methods: Adult patients (n = 115) of both genders were included if their fasting total serum cholesterol concentrations exceeded the 95th percentile of normal or their serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) : high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratios exceeded 5. Patients were excluded if they suffered from any condition known to cause, or predispose them to, elevated lipoprotein levels or lenticular opacification. Lenticular changes were assessed by means of a slit-lamp through the fully dilated pupil. Results: An extremely strong association (p < 0.0001) was found to exist between HDL cholesterol levels and the development of lens opacities. Below an HDL-C level of 1.5 mmol/l subjects had a seven-fold higher calculated probability of falling in the lens opacity subgroup than those with HDL-C levels above 1.5 mmol/l [odds ratio = 7.33 (95% CI = 2.06–26.10; p = 0.001)]. An equally strong association was found between high (>5) LDL:HDL ratios and the development of lens opacities (p < 0.0003). The risk of falling into the cataract subgroup if the individual’s LDL:HDL ratio exceeded 5 was 2.35 (95% CI = 1.09–5.04; p = 0.014). Conclusions: This study strongly suggests that an association exists between low levels of HDL cholesterol and high LDL:HDL ratios on one hand and the development of adult lens opacification on the other.