This study will evaluate a system developed to grade the severity of age-related cataract, a
common cause of vision loss in older adults. Cataract research requires methods to simply
and accurately determine the type and severity of cataracts in order to develop new,
possibly non-surgical, treatments.
Patients 50 years of age and older with one of the three major age-related cataract types
(nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular) may be eligible for this study. Participants
will be recruited from among patients enrolled in other National Eye Institute protocols.
Participants will have their eyes examined independently by two ophthalmologists with a
biomicroscope, a magnifying device routinely used during eye examinations. The doctors will
use the new grading system to record if a cataract is present, and if so, how severe it is.
The examination includes measurement of visual acuity (vision chart test) and examination of
the lens, retina, pupils and eye movements. Photographs of the eye will be taken using a
special camera that flashes a bright light in the eye.
Standardized lens photography with centralized grading of photographs has been used in
clinical trials and epidemiologic studies of cataract. While photographic grading systems
have been shown to be reliable, they are too expensive and complex to use in many studies.
For some large studies, especially those with many centers or those in which lens changes
are of secondary concern, it would be useful to have a simple clinical lens grading system
that is reliable and that can be used with minimal training of examiners. Several clinical
lens grading systems have been developed and found to be reliable in the hands of dedicated
lens researchers, but the systems have been difficult for other ophthalmologists to use
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDA) has developed a simplified clinical cataract
grading system to assess the severity of nuclear, cortical and posterior subcapsular
cataracts, the 3 main types of age-related cataract. The system is designed to require
minimal examiner training for persons already proficient in the use of the slit lamp. A
total 150 participants with cataracts of varying severity, who are already participating in
other NEI protocols, will be recruited to evaluate the reliability of the system. After
being dilated, each participant will have a lens grading performed independently by 2
examiners. To provide information on the validity of the clinical gradings, lens
photographs will be taken and graded using the detailed AREDS system for grading
photographs. The data will allow us to evaluate (1) the agreement between the AREDS
clinical lens grading system and the AREDS photographic system of grading lens opacities,
and (2) the agreement on assessment of cataract severity among opthalmologists (with varying
subspecialty) using the AREDS clinical lens grading method.
1. Patient must understand and sign the informed consent.
2. Patient must be at least 18 years of age.
3. Pupillary dilation to at least 6 mm must be possible.
4. Patients must have at least one natural lens present.
Patients below the age of 18 will be excluded from participation in this study of
1. Any condition such as corneal opacification that precludes adequate slit lamp
examination and photography of the lens.