A team of researchers from Wisconsin suggests that cadmium, but not lead, exposure and smoking are associated with an increased risk of contrast sensitivity (CS) impairment

This longitudinal, 10-year cohort study evaluated 1,983 patients aged 21 to 84 years old who were free of CS impairment in both eyes at baseline. The researchers completed two follow-up examinations at five-year intervals.

The researchers found that the 10-year cumulative incidence of CS impairment was 24.8%, similar in women (24.9%) and in men (24.6%) and highest in the oldest age group (ages 65 to 84) at 66.3%. In multivariate models, the team noted that high cadmium levels, older age, larger waist circumference and more plaque sites were associated with increased risk, while male sex and alcohol consumption were associated with decreased risk. Results were similar in smokers and in patients exposed to cadmium, but lead exposure was not associated with an increased risk.

The study concludes that reducing cadmium exposure, smoking or both may reduce the burden of CS impairment in middle-aged adults. 

Paulsen AJ, Schubert CR, Johnson LJ, et al. Association of cadmium and lead exposure with the incidence of contrast sensitivity impairment among middle-aged adults. JAMA Ophthalmol. September 13, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].