Prevent cataracts one day at a time

Cataracts are a result of degenerative changes in the lens of the eye, often brought on by aging, diabetes or eye injuries. Though painless, cataracts cause a distinct thickening or “cloudiness” of the pupil making it unable to focus or admit light properly. Left untreated, cataracts can cause diminished or complete loss of vision. One major cause of cataracts is free radical damage to the sulphur-containing proteins, enzymes and cell membranes in the eye lenses. Past studies have suggested that regular consumption of antioxidants may help prevent cataracts. Now, research suggests that a number of other nutrients may be helpful as well.

Scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia investigated the potential link between daily use of a vitamin supplement and the development of cataracts. The researchers examined 2,873 participants aged 49 to 97 that had completed a detailed dietary questionnaire and were willing to undergo cataract testing.

The participants were tested for three key types of cataracts: nuclear, cortical and posterior. From their analysis, researchers confirmed that regular intake of vitamins was associated with reduced risk of nuclear cataracts. In addition, they determined that long-term use of a daily multi-vitamin reduced incidence of both nuclear and cortical cataracts. Vitamin A and folic acid were found most protective against nuclear cataracts, while folic acid and B-12 were found strongly protective against cortical cataracts.

Sources: Am J Ophthalmol 2001 Jul;132(1):19-26; Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Alive Research Group, Alive Books:1997; Prescription for Nutritional Healing by J Balch, Avery:1997