Show/hide main menu

News

News Highlights

Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts

Posted on 24/03/2016
vitamin c

By tracy CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=346474

Higher dietary intake of vitamin C has been found to have a potentially preventative effect on cataract progression in the first twin study of cataracts to examine to what degree genetic and environmental factors influence their progression with age.

Cataract is a common condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy as a result of oxidation over time. Whilst this is a natural part of ageing for many, for others it is more severe and causes blurred vision, glare and dazzle that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. 

Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the UK with more than 300,000 procedures carried out each year.

The study, led by King’s College London and published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the progression of cataracts in the eyes of 324 pairs of female twins from the Twins UK registry over 10 years by examining photographs of the participant’s lenses that allowed them to analyse the level of opacity of the lens in detail. Participant intake of vitamin C was also measured using a food questionnaire.

They found that those participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 per cent risk reduction of cataract progression and had ‘clearer’ lenses after the 10 years than those who had consumed less vitamin C as part of their diet.

The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Guide Dogs for the Blind, also found that environmental factors (including diet) influenced cataract more than genetic factors, which only explained a third of the change in lens opacity.

The fluid in the eye that bathes the lens is high in vitamin C, which helps to stop the lens from oxidising and protects it from becoming cloudy. It is thought that increased intake of vitamin C has a protective effect on cataract progression by increasing the vitamin C available in the eye fluid.

Professor Chris Hammond, consultant eye surgeon and lead author of the study from the Division of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Kate Yonova-Doing, the study’s first author said: ‘The human body cannot manufacture vitamin C, so we depend on vitamins in the food we eat. We did not find a significantly reduced risk in people who took vitamin tablets, so it seems that a healthy diet is better than supplements.’

Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world, affecting approximately 20 million people, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where healthcare is less readily available.

Limitations of the study include that the participants are predominantly of UK-origin and female, reflecting cataract progression between the ages of 60 and 70 years on average, so may not be generalisable.  

Also, observational studies like this cannot rule out the impact of other factors relating to a healthy diet that may also have had an effect on the progression of cataracts.

 

Notes to editors

For further information please contact Hannah Pluthero, Press Officer at King’s College London, on +44 (0)207 848 3238 or email hannah.pluthero@kcl.ac.uk

‘Genetic and dietary factors influencing the progression of nuclear cataract’ is published online in Ophthalmology on Thursday 24 March 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.036

For further information about King’s, please visit the King’s in Brief web pages.


About The Wellcome Trust

 

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art. www.wellcome.ac.uk

Rss Feed Atom Feed

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

New immunotherapy trial for Type 1 diabetes

New immunotherapy trial for Type 1 diabetes

Description
The search for a treatment for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) - which affects over 400,000 people in the UK – will be stepped up with the start of a new phase one clinical trial at Guy's Hospital in London.
Eating polyunsaturated fats linked to slowing diabetes progress for some

Eating polyunsaturated fats linked to slowing diabetes progress for some

Description
Research led by a dietitian at King's College London has found that replacing saturated fat in the diet with polyunsaturated fat, found in foods such as vegetable oils or nuts, is linked to slower progress of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes whose muscles do not take up glucose properly.
Lion's Den Challenge Start -Up Competition Awards Ceremony

Lion's Den Challenge Start -Up Competition Awards Ceremony

Description
As the Entrepreneurship Institute (Entrepreneurship@King's) celebrates its one year anniversary, we take a look at all of its successes in the past year and what to expect in the upcoming year. Since Entrepreneurship@King's was established a year ago, it has gone from strength to strength, reflected through its various outreach activities and outstanding achievements.

Share this story:

add

Follow Us

@kingscollegelon

Live Twitter feed...

@kingscollegelon
Join the conversation
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Accessibility Recruitment News Centre Contact us

© 2016 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454