Dietary Carotenoids and Vitamins C and E for Cataracts
A diet rich in carotenoids and vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing cataracts, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Boston examined the relation between dietary intake of carotenoids and vitamins C and E and the risk of cataracts in women. Carotenoids are a group of compounds that produce the red, yellow and orange colors found in many fruits and vegetables.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataracts generally do not cause surface irritation or pain.
Clouding of the lens is a normal part of getting older. Approximately half of Americans older than 65 have some degree of clouding of the lens. After age 75, as many as 70 percent of Americans have cataracts that are significant enough to impair vision. Cataracts occur equally in men and women.
Researchers assessed dietary intake at baseline in 39,876 female health professionals using a detailed food frequency questionnaire. A total of 35,551 women provided detailed information on antioxidant nutrient intake from food and supplements and were free of a diagnosis of cataract. The main outcome measure was cataract, defined as an incident, age-related lens opacity responsible for a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity in the worse eye to 20/30 or worse based on self-report confirmed by medical record review.
During 10 years of follow-up, a total of 2,031 cases of incident cataract were confirmed. The study found that a high intake of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin reduced the risk of cataracts by 18 percent and vitamin E was associated with a 14 percent reduction.
The study authors concluded that higher dietary intakes of lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin E from food and supplements may be associated with significantly decreased risks of cataract.
1. Christen WG, Liu S, Glynn RJ, et al. Dietary Carotenoids, Vitamins C and E, and Risk of Cataract in Women - A Prospective Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(1):102-109. View Abstract.