A link between maternal malnutrition and depletion of glutathione in the developing lens: a possible explanation for idiopathic childhood cataract?

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Lens cataract is the leading cause of blindness in developing countries. While cataract is primarily a disease of old age and is relatively rare in children, accounting for only four per cent of global blindness, childhood cataract is responsible for a third of the economic cost of blindness. While many of the causes of cataract in children are known, over half of childhood cataracts are idiopathic with no known cause. The incidence of idiopathic cataract is highest in developing countries and studies have discovered that low birth weight is a risk factor in the development of idiopathic childhood cataract. As low birth weight is a reflection of poor foetal growth, it is possible that maternal malnutrition, which is endemic in some developing countries, results in the altered physiology of…