Lens Opacities in a Rural Population of Southern India: The Aravind Comprehensive Eye Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science








OBJECTIVES. To determine the prevalence of lens opacities in an older population in rural southern India. METHODS. A cross-sectional study of 5150 persons aged 40 years and more who were selected as part of a representative sample from three southern districts of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. All lenses were graded and classified for opacities and other disorders by slit lamp after pupillary dilation, using the Lens Opacification Classification System (LOCS) III and standard photographs. Definite cataract was defined as either LOCS III nuclear opalescence of grade 3.0 or more and/or cortical cataract of grade 3.0 or more and/or posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC) of grade 2.0 or more. RESULTS. Definite cataract was present in one or both eyes in 2499 (47.5%) of 5150 subjects. The age-adjusted prevalence (adjusted to U.S. population estimates for 2000) of definite cataract in this population was 61.9% (95% CI, 60.6 - 6.3). The prevalence was significantly lower in men (P = 0.0002). In those eyes with cataracts, nuclear cataract (59.7%) was most common, and cortical cataract was present in 20.0% and PSC in 24.3%. Cataract surgery had been performed in 9.4% persons, including 3.0% who had bilateral surgery for cataracts. Best corrected visual acuity was less than 6/60 in 3.7% of aphakic eyes and in 0.8% of pseudophakic eyes. CONCLUSIONS. The higher age-adjusted prevalence and relatively early onset of age-related cataract in this population suggest that the cataract-centered approach to minimizing preventable blindness, adopted by the National Program for Prevention of Blindness in India, is appropriate.