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Higher vitamin C intake may help slow cataract progression

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

Findings from a study published on March 24, 2015 in Ophthalmology suggest that consuming a high amount of vitamin C could slow the risk of cataract progression by a third compared to a low intake.

Researchers at King's College London examined data from over 1,000 pairs of twins enrolled in the Twins UK registry. Questionnaire responses provided information concerning the intake of vitamin C and other nutrients. Digital imaging evaluated lens opacity in all subjects at age 60 and in 324 sets of twins ten years later.
At the beginning of the study, participants whose diets contained abundant amounts of vitamin C had a 20% lower reduction in cataract risk compared to those who consumed low amounts. After ten years, subjects who consumed a high amount of the vitamin had a 33% lower risk of cataract progression. Genetic factors were determined to account for 35% of the difference in progression and environmental factors, including diet, accounted for the remainder. The study is the first to suggest that genetic factors are less important in cataract progression than those attributed to environment.
"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," stated lead researcher Christopher Hammond, MD, FRCOphth, who is a professor of ophthalmology at King's College.
"The findings of this study could have significant impact, particularly for the aging population globally by suggesting that simple dietary changes such as increased intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthier diet could help protect them from cataracts," he observed. "While we cannot avoid getting older, diabetes and smoking are also risk factors for this type of cataract, and so a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle generally should reduce the risk of needing a cataract operation."

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