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2013-11-18

Nutritional Prevention of Cataract

Age-related cataract is one of the leading causes of low vision in both developed and undeveloped countries. Although cataract is successfully treated by surgical removal of the lens, followed by implantation of an artificial lens, the number of people affected by cataract is expected to rise due to the increase of life expectancy, putting further stress on the health care costs associated with the management of this condition. 

Accumulation of oxidized proteins in the lens that aggregate and precipitate is believed to be the most likely mechanism for this condition and antioxidant nutrients may play a role in cataract risk reduction. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids reported to be present in eye lens and large observational studies have suggested that high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may be beneficial for reducing the risk of cataract incidence or cataract extraction. I had already covered 2 such studies in the past (links below). 

Now, a new meta-analysis has pooled the results of previous research to give us a more comprehensive grasp of the evidence to date. This new study showed that the highest intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a significant 25% reduction of risk of nuclear cataract when compared with the lowest intakes. Further, there was a dose-response effect, which showed a 3% drop in nuclear cataract risk for every 0.3 mg/day increase in lutein and zeaxanthin.

Source: A dose-response meta-analysis of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin intake in relation to risk of age-related cataract.

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