A twin study suggests that the development of nuclear cataracts could be delayed by increasing your intake of vitamin C. This antioxidant is well-known for its ability to nourish blood vessels in the eyes and prevent age-related macular degeneration. Researchers in England wanted to test whether vitamin C displayed other healing and preventative properties in the eye.
Christopher Hammond, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London, was senior author of the study. Hammond and a group of researchers used data from the TwinsUK database to discover whether vitamin C would delay the development of nuclear cataracts in the same way it delays the development of age-related macular degeneration. The team also compared vitamin C intake to genetic determinants to see what had a larger influence on disease.
The team analyzed 2,054 white female twins that met specific criteria set by the researchers, including baseline nuclear cataract data and food frequency questionnaire that included intake of vitamin C and other nutrients. After examining the relationship between nuclear cataract change and micronutrients like vitamin C, the team found:
- Dietary vitamin C helped protect against nuclear cataracts at baseline and nuclear cataract progression
- Environmental factors like dietary intake played a larger role in nuclear cataract progression compared to genetic factors (65 percent compared to 35 percent).
Dr. Hammond says that more studies will need to take place before any recommendations can be changed regarding vitamin C intake. He said, “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.”
The study, called “Genetic and Dietary Factors Influencing the Progression of Nuclear Cataract,” was published in the journal Ophthalmology. In the past, researchers thought that genetics had more of an impact on the development of nuclear cataracts. This new information suggests that vitamin C intake could actually be more significant than heredity (Source: Cataract News Today).