Foods High in Vitamin C Can Put Cataract Progression on Hold – KelownaNow

It’s the first time that science has proved lifestyle may outweigh genetics when it comes to cataracts.

Researchers in the UK have proved that a diet rich in vitamin C could cut risk of cataract progression by a third.

Their study, published online in the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is the first to show that diet and lifestyle may play can overcome genetics in cataract development and severity.

Cataracts, which cloud the eye’s lens and can turn them opaque, happen naturally as people get older.

Even though there is now cataract removal surgery, the issue is still the number one cause of blindness worldwide.

Researchers at King’s College London studied if certain nutrients from food or supplements could help prevent cataract progression and how much environmental factors, such as diet, matters versus genetics.

“The most important finding was that vitamin C intake from food seemed to protect against cataract progression,” said study author Doctor Christopher Hammond, professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London, in a statement. “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 team examined data from more than 1,000 pairs of female twins from the UK.

The women answered a food questionnaire to track the intake of vitamins and minerals.

Researchers tracked the progress of cataracts using digital imaging, checking the opacity of their lenses at around age 60. They redid the imaging on 324 pairs of the twins about 10 years later.

At the beginning of the study, people with diets rich in vitamin C had a 20 per cent reduction of risk for cataracts. After 10 years, the women who reported consuming more vitamin C-rich foods had a 33 per cent risk reduction in progression.

Genetic factors accounted for 35 per cent of the difference in cataract progression, but environmental factors, including diet, accounted for 65 per cent.

According to researchers, vitamin C’s effect on cataract progression may have to do with its strength as an antioxidant. The fluid inside the eye is normally high in vitamin C, which helps prevents oxidation that clouds the lens. More vitamin C in the diet may increase the amount present in the fluid around the lens, providing extra protection.

The findings only pertain to getting vitamin C through food, not tablets.

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