Research on UK twins is first to show that diet, lifestyle may outweigh genetics when it comes to common eye condition
A diet rich in vitamin C could cut risk of cataract progression by a third, suggests a study being published online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The research is also the first to show that diet and lifestyle may play a greater role than genetics in cataract development and severity.
Cataracts occur naturally with age and cloud the eye’s lens, turning it opaque. Despite the advent of modern cataract removal surgery, cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness globally. Researchers at King’s College London looked at whether certain nutrients from food or supplements could help prevent cataract progression. They also tried to find out how much environmental factors such as diet mattered versus genetics.
The team examined data from more than 1,000 pairs of female twins from the United Kingdom. Participants answered a food questionnaire to track the intake of vitamin C and other nutrients, including vitamins A, B, D, E, copper, manganese and zinc. To measure the progression of cataracts, digital imaging was used to check the opacity of their lenses at around age 60. They performed a follow-up measurement on 324 pairs of the twins about 10 years later.
During the baseline measurement, diets rich in vitamin C were associated with a 20 percent risk reduction for cataract. After 10 years, researchers found that women who reported consuming more vitamin C-rich foods had a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression. Continue reading