Senile cataractogenesis advanced by diabetes, thought mainly to be due to accumulation of polyols, is one of the major causes of blindness throughout the world. Rats fed a 50% galactose diet developed mature cataracts in 23 days, whereas rats fed a 50% galactose diet with 0.4% butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) had clear lenses. On day 10, both groups had comparable galactitol levels in the lens, but hydration in the former group, as determined by the lens weight, was ∼10% more than in the latter. On day 23, galactitol levels in the latter group were 92% higher (∼85 mM) than in the former group, but lens weight was lower. These results indicate that sugar-induced cataractogenesis in rats is not solely due to polyol accumulation. Oxidative damage is probably a major cause of the advancement of cataractogenesis.

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