PURPOSE: To determine whether cataract in patients with atopic dermatitis is associated with higher levels of aqueous flare or cells. METHODS: In a prospective study, 35 consecutive patients examined during a 6- month period at the atopic dermatitis service in a university hospital underwent standardized ophthalmologic evaluations including the quantitative measurement of aqueous flare and cells by a laser flare-cell meter. RESULTS: Seven patients had bilateral cataract with anterior or posterior subcapsular opacities, or both; one patient had similar cataract in one eye and no cataract in the opposite eye; and 27 patients had no cataract in either eye. Fifteen eyes with cataract showed significantly higher levels of aqueous flare (2.1 to 33.9 photon counts per millisecond with a median of 18.0) compared with 55 eyes without cataract (2.4 to 16.0 photon counts per millisecond with a median of 9.2; Mann-Whitney U test, P = .0008). The association of cataract with higher levels of aqueous flare remained significant when only one eye (the right eye) of each patient was chosen for statistical analysis (P = .0024). CONCLUSION: Higher levels of aqueous flare caused by the breakdown of blood-aqueous barrier may contribute to the formation of cataract in patients with atopic dermatitis.
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