Vitamins for cataracts


Researchers involved in the Nurses Health Study examined the link between cataract development and intake of various foods and antioxidant vitamins in over 50,000 women. The results of their studies showed that those with high beta carotene and vitamin A intakes were less likely to develop cataracts. Those whose diets contained spinach also seemed to have a lower risk. The researchers concluded that dietary carotenes, although not necessarily beta carotene, can decrease the risk of cataracts severe enough to require extraction.

Vitamins for cataractsIn a 1992 study, Finnish researchers compared the differences in beta carotene levels between patients admitted to eye wards for senile cataract and those without eye disorders. The results showed that those with low concentrations of beta carotene were 1.7 times as likely to suffer from cataract. As well as protecting against free radical damage, beta carotene may also act as a filter and protect against light-induced damage to the fiber portion of the eye lens.

Other carotenes may also exert protective effects. In a 1997 study, researchers at Arizona State University assessed the relationship between carotenoid pigments in the retina of the eye, including lutein and zeaxanthin, and the density of clouding in the lens. The study involved younger people (ages 24 to 36 years) and older people (aged 48 to 82 years). The results showed that lens density increased with age, and that the increase was related to lower macular pigment carotenes.

Vitamins for cataracts: Vitamin C

The vitamin C content of the eye is 20 times greater than that in the blood. Results from some studies, including the Beaver Dam Eye Study, suggest that people with high levels of vitamin C are at less risk of cataracts than those with low levels of vitamin C.4 Vitamin C causes more iron-binding protein, ferritin, to be produced which may reduce the oxidative damage done by iron. Vitamin C may act to protect enzymes within the lens that remove oxidation-damaged proteins.

Results from the Nurses Health Study previously mentioned showed that the risk of cataract was 45 per cent lower among women who used vitamin C supplements for ten or more years.

Further results from this study reported in 1997 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggests that vitamin C supplements taken for long periods can reduce the development of cataracts. Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture and Harvard School of Public Health examined the l ink between cataract development and vitamin C supplement use over a ten to 12-year period. The subjects were 247 Boston area nurses aged from 56 to 71. The researchers performed detailed eye examinations to determine the degree of opacity (clouding) of the eye lenses of the subjects. Results showed that use of vitamin C supplements for over ten years was associated with a 77 per cent lower prevalence of early lens opacities and an 83 per cent lower prevalence of moderate lens opacities.

Vitamins for cataracts: Vitamin E

Recent research suggests that cortical cataracts are more likely when plasma vitamin E concentrations are low. A1996 Finnish study of over 400 men found an increased risk of cataracts in those with low vitamin E levels. The researchers evaluated the link between vitamin E levels and progression of eye lens opacities in 410 men with high cholesterol. The results showed that those with low vitamin E levels had almost four times the risk of lens opacities when compared with those in the highest intake group.


Riboflavin deficiency may be associated with the development of cataracts. Researchers involved in the New York State Lens Opacities Case-Control Study assessed the risk factors for various types of cataract among 1380 participants aged 40 to 79 years. They found an increased risk with low levels of several nutrients including riboflavin. Riboflavin is necessary for the activity of an enzyme that exerts protective effects on the eye.

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