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Increased vitamin C can protect against cataracts, study says

Higher levels of vitamin C in the diet, not from supplements, was linked to slowing the progression of cataracts by one-third over a decade.
By Stephen Feller   |   March 24, 2016 at 10:00 AM

LONDON, March 24 (UPI) -- People with higher dietary intake of vitamin C saw cataract progression decrease by one-third over the course of a decade, according to researchers in England.

A King's College London study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, found vitamin C had a protective effect against cataracts getting worse during a long-term study of twins.

Cataracts, a slow clouding of the eye lens, cause blurred vision, glare and dazzle that can only be corrected with surgery, and is the most common cause of blindness in people over 40.

"The findings of this study could have significant impact, particularly for the ageing 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," Chris Hammond, a professor at King's College London, said in a press release.

For the study, researchers analyzed cataract measurement and dietary records for 324 pairs of twins in the TwinsUK cohort collected over the course of about 10 years.

Participants who consumed more vitamin C as part of their diet, rather than in supplements, were found to have cataracts that progressed about 33 percent less than people with lower levels of vitamin C in their diet.

While the researchers note conclusions based on the study should be limited, because participants were predominantly British women between the ages of 60 and 70, and other parts of their diets may also have an effect on how their cataracts progress.

Regardless, the researchers said the study suggests a possible benefit from more dietary vitamin C, which the body needs anyway.

"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," Hammond said.

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