Monday, December 9, 2013

Nutrition and Cataracts


We see many cataract patients in our Vancouver eye clinic. Cataracts are a common age related eye disease and is among the major causes of vision impairment and blindness worldwide. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and frequently performed surgical procedures in Canada.  It is not without risk, however.  There are side effects and bad outcomes.  For example, some people develop double vision following cataract surgery, which cannot be corrected.

This is normal vision:

This is vision with cataracts:

Rather than rely on surgery, it is far better to prevent cataracts from developing in the first place. That is where optimal nutrition comes in. Nutrition, specifically antioxidant intake, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cataracts (and other diseases like macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in those over 50) and it's important role in preventing eye disease was the subject of an October 2013 study published in the journal BMC Opththalmology.

The researchers looked at the relationship between cataract and fruit and vegetable intake and the dietary and blood levels of a group of anti-oxidants called carotenoids. Specifically, the carotenoids vitamins C and E were examined in 599 elderly people. The researchers found that those with higher intake of vitamins C and E had a lower risk of developing cataracts. The conclusion was that "high daily intakes of fruit and vegetables and vitamins C and E were associated with a significantly decreased of the prevalence of cataract or cataract surgery."

We would add that supplementation with high quality, high absorption vitamins is also recommended for those who find it difficult to obtain enough anti-oxidants from their diet.  How do you know if you are getting an optimal level of anti-oxidants?  Watch this video from the Dr. Oz Show: