Vitamin C Could Help Reduce Risk of Cataracts

When it comes to getting older, you might think that there is nothing you can do to delay the aging process. Maybe you feel the same way about your eyesight. After all, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 55, so the likelihood is quite high that most of us will develop a cataract.

There might actually be something that you can do to delay the progression of nuclear cataracts, the most common type of cataract. The central zone of the lens of the eye gradually yellows and hardens, and then it expands to the outer layer of the lens. Researchers used to think that genetic factors had the most significant impact on whether you would develop a nuclear cataract. However, a new study suggests that vitamin C could play an even bigger role in delaying cataract development than heredity.

Christopher Hammond, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London, led a study to better understand the relationship between vitamin C and nuclear cataracts. Hammond and his team used information from 2,054 white female twins from the TwinsUK database. They looked at baseline nuclear cataract data and food frequency questionnaires that included vitamin C intake and other nutrients.

The team found that vitamin C helped delay nuclear cataracts at baseline and nuclear cataract progression. They also found that dietary choices played a larger role in nuclear cataract progression compared to genetic factors (65 percent vs. 35 percent).

Adding more vitamin C to your diet is something that everyone can do. Whether it is eating an extra piece of citrus fruit ever day, cutting up a red pepper on a salad or taking a vitamin C supplement, you are taking an active role in delaying cataract formation or cataract progression (Source: Cataract News Today).

Dr. Hammond says that more studies will need to take place before any recommendations can be changed regarding vitamin C intake. He said in an AAO press release, “The most important finding was that vitamin C intake from food seemed to protect against cataract progression. While we cannot totally avoid developing cataracts, we may be able to delay their onset and keep them from worsening significantly by eating a diet rich in vitamin C.”

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