Validity of a personal and family history of cataract and cataract surgery in genetic studies

Heidi Bowie, Nathan G. Congdon, Hong Lai, Sheila K. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To determine the accuracy of a history of cataract and cataract surgery (self-report and for a sibling), and to determine which demographic, cognitive, and medical factors are predictive of an accurate history. METHODS. All participants in the Salisbury Eye Evaluation (SEE) project and their locally resident siblings were questioned about a personal and family history of cataract or cataract surgery. Lens grading at the slit lamp, using standardized photographs and a grading system, was performed for both SEE participants (probands) and their siblings. Cognitive testing and a history of systemic comorbidities were also obtained for all probands. RESULTS. Sensitivity of a history of cataract provided on behalf of a sibling was 32%, specificity 98%. The performance was better for a history of cataract surgery: sensitivity 90%, specificity 89%. For self-report of cataract, sensitivity was also low at 55%, with specificity at 77%. Self-report of cataract surgery gave a much better performance: sensitivity 94%, specificity 100%. Different cutoffs in the definition of cataract had little impact. Factors predicting a correct history of cataract included high school or greater education in the proband (odds ratio [OR] = 1.13, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.25) and younger sibling (but not proband) age (OR = 0.94 for each year of age, 95% CI 0.90-0.99). Gender, race and Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) result were not predictive. CONCLUSIONS. Whereas accurate self and family histories for cataract surgery may be obtainable, it is difficult to ascertain cataract status accurately from history alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2905-2908
Number of pages4
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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