Vitamin C intake protects against cataracts – Xinhua

A shopkeeper sells oranges at a fruit market in Nagpur, which is famous for orange production and trade, in Maharashtra, India, Dec. 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

BEIJING, March 29 (Xinhua) — A new study has suggested that vitamin C not only protects you from colds, but also helps ward off cataracts, a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye.

“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,” study lead researcher Dr. Christopher Hammond said in a news release from the journal Ophthalmology.

As the researchers described, cataracts occur naturally with age and cause the eye’s lens to become cloudy. Cataracts can be removed but they remain the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Pakistani Muslims buy lemons at a special Ramadan Market in northwest Pakistan’s Peshawar, July 9, 2013. Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting, during which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset.(Xinhua/Umar Qayyum)

The new study included more than 1,000 pairs of 60-year-old British female twins. The researchers found that those who took in high amounts of vitamin C in their diet had a one-third lower risk of cataracts over 10 years.

Getting vitamin C via a supplement did not appear to reduce the risk, the researchers found.

The study is the first to show that diet and lifestyle may play a more important role than genetics in cataract development and severity, according to the researchers.

A doctor checks a patient during a free cataract surgery at a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 3, 2015. Free cataract surgeries were carried out by the Jakarta regional police for residents who can not afford the expense. (Xinhua/Zulkarnain)

Based on the findings, Hammond’s team now believes that a person’s genetics probably account for 35 percent of the risk of cataract progression, while diet and other environmental factors may account for the other 65 percent.

However, it’s important to note that this study can only show associations; it cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship between dietary vitamin C and cataracts.

It is not possible to completely prevent cataracts, but they can be delayed with a diet rich in vitamin C, said Hammond. “The most important finding was that vitamin C intake from food seemed to protect against cataract progression.”


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