Gender effect on onset, prevalence and surgical treatment of cataract in patients with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1

Marianna Scutifero 1, Michele Lanza 2, Roberta Petillo 1, Maddalena De Bernardo 3, Luigia Passamano 1, Nicola Rosa 3, Luisa Politano 1

1 Cardiomyology and Medical Genetics, University Hospital of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Naples, Italy; 2 Eye Department, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Naples, Italy; 3 Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy

DOI 10.36185/2532-1900-075

Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is the most common muscular dystrophy in adults, affecting 1:8000 individuals. It is a multi-systemic disorder involving muscle, heart, endocrine and respiratory apparatus and eye. The eye symptoms can include ptosis, external ophthalmoplegia, epiphora, and early onset cataracts. Cataracts occur at a much earlier age (usually between 30 and 40) than the general population, where females are usually affected more than men.
We studied gender differences in cataract prevalence and treatment age in 243 DM1 patients (134 M; 109 F), aged 18 to 70 years, who were subsequently screened at routine follow-up. For each patient, information was collected on age, sex, CTG expansion, age of cataract onset, and age at cataract surgery, when available.
Seventy-three patients, 30 females and 43 males, had cataracts, at a mean age of onset of 41.14 ± 12.64 in females, and 40.36 ± 10.03 in males. Sixty-nine of them underwent cataract surgery, males at an earlier age than females (42.8 ± 9.8 years versus 47.3 ± 12.6 years) and in 52.5% of cases before the age of 40, compared to 17.2% of females. The difference was statistically significant.
The assumption that females in general and those with DM1 in particular develop cataracts more frequently and earlier than males is not confirmed, at least in this study. A possible explanation for these results could be related to non-advanced age, the protective role of estrogen and the lower prevalence of smoking in the study population.

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