Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vitamin C lowers the risk of cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that commonly causes vision problems in older people. A new study published in the journal Ophthalmology shows that vitamin C can lower the risk of developing cataracts.

In contrast to previous studies, the new study focused on individuals in India rather than on people in Western countries. India is a particularly appropriate setting for a study on the effects of vitamin C because people there tend to have lower levels of vitamin C and high rates of cataracts. The study's authors evaluated more than 5,600 Indian adults of age 60 and up for cataracts, interviewed them about their diets and lifestyle habits, and measured their blood levels of vitamin C.

The study found that nearly 73 per cent of the study participants had cataracts. However, the risk of cataracts dropped as vitamin C levels in the blood and vitamin C intake rose.

In the people with highest levels of vitamin C, the risk of cataract was 39 per cent lower than in people with the lowest levels of vitamin C.

This is the latest in a long line of recent research showing the beneficial effects of a healthy diet on the eyes. Other studies have shown that a vegetarian diet also reduces the risk of developing cataracts and that antioxidants protect agaist the development of macular degeneration (which is the leading cause of blindness in people age 50 and over). In short, diet matters. And it is so easy to eat a beneficial diet - all you need to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured ones are the best.