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November 15, 2010

Cataract Prevention? Vitamins are Not The Answer!

According to WebMD

Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. It may not be the cure for the common cold (though it's thought to help prevent more serious complications). But the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. 

Vitamin E is key for strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes. In recent years, vitamin E supplements have become popular as antioxidants. These are substances that protect cells from damage.  Many people use vitamin E supplements in the hopes that the vitamin's antioxidant properties will prevent or treat disease. Early lab studies of vitamin E supplements were promising. But studies of vitamin E in people have been disappointing.

There was an interesting article in this months issue of Archives of Ophthalmology titled: Age-Related Cataract in a Randomized Trial of Vitamins E and C in Men.

This article assesed whether supplementation with alternate-day vitamin E or daily vitamin C affects the incidence of age-related cataract in a large cohort of men. 11,545 apparently healthy US male physicians 50 or older without a diagnosis of cataract at baseline were randomly assigned to receive 400 IU of vitamin E or placebo on alternate days and 500 mg of vitamin C or placebo daily. After 8 years of treatment and follow-up, there were 579 cataracts in the vitamin Eā€“treated group and 595 in the vitamin placebo group. For vitamin C, there were 593 cataracts in the treated group and 581 in the placebo group.

The study concluded that long-term alternate-day use of 400 IU of vitamin E and daily use of 500 mg of vitamin C had no notable beneficial or harmful effect on the risk of cataract.

There are a few things you can to to slow down cataract formation:

  • Wear sunglasses
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight

And, if you do develop visually significant cataracts, not to worry.  Cataract surgery is the most common procedure performed in the US with 1.5 million performed annually.  Combined with the implantation of an IOL (intraoccular lens), the results are excellent..

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