Table of Contents
Cataract causes the lens of the eye to turn opaque resulting in progressive blindness. Cataract is one of the diseases that develop as a person ages. It is the lifestyle factors like diet more than the genetics of a person that lead to the formation of cataract.
According to the statistics, cataract affects about 29.2% of Americans. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness over the globe, despite the fact that cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures. In one of the ground breaking researches, scientists have discovered that vitamin C can help keep the cataract at bay through its preventive role.
The study was carried out by scientists from King's College London, in the UK and was authored by Dr. Christopher Hammond, professor of ophthalmology at King's College London. The basic aim of the study was to look into the roles of various sorts of nutrients in the prevention of cataract. The researchers also wanted to assess the impact of various lifestyle factors like diet on cataract in comparison with genetics.
Data was collected from 1,000 pairs of female twins in UK by a questionnaire that asked about the nutrient intake of the participants like vitamins A, B, C, D and E, copper, manganese, zinc and others. The progression of the disease among the study participants was monitored by digital imaging.
These imaging tools measured the opacity of the lens of the patients when they reached the average age of 60. The measurements were repeated on 324 pairs of the twins about 10 years later.
Diet vs. Genetics
The first measurement came up with quite astonishing figures stating the reduction in the risk of cataract formation of about 20% with ingestion of Vitamin C. The repeat measurements that were taken after the 10 years interval showed an even lower risk –about 33%-in women with high dietary intake of vitamin C.
The researchers attributed the ability of vitamin C to lower the risk of cataract formation to its anti-oxidant properties. The normal content of vitamin C in the fluid medium inside the eye is quite high and it prevents the denaturing of the proteins forming the lens by counteracting the oxidative stress, thereby preventing the clouding of the lens.
The Anti-Oxidant Role of Vitamin C in Cataract Prevention
It was postulated that high dietary intake of vitamin C fortifies the protection of the lens and further lowers the risk of cataract formation. The researchers only studied the effects of vitamin C that was taken in diet, not through the supplements.
According to Dr. Christopher Hammond, total prevention of cataract is not possible and at one stage, every person ultimately develops some degree of cataract. This study has, however, helped unearth the fact that vitamin C can effectively slow down the process of cataract formation and progression thereby maintaining the vitality and function of the lens.
This study is an important step towards active disease prevention. By enhancing the dietary consumption of vitamin C, the onset and progression of cataract can be easily delayed.