Friday 28 October 2016

Vitamin C may delay cataracts

Published 05/04/2016 | 02:30

The onset of cataracts may be delayed by a diet rich in vitamin C.
The onset of cataracts may be delayed by a diet rich in vitamin C.

Removal of cataracts, which affect people's sight, is one of the most frequent operations carried out on patients in Irish hospitals. Now, new research suggests it may be possible to delay their onset and keep them from worsening significantly by eating a diet rich in vitamin C.

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Cataracts are caused by changes in the structure of the lens of your eye. These usually happen naturally as you get older. However, there are other factors that may increase your risk of cataracts. These include: diabetes, injury, severe inflammation, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunlight, long-term use of medicines known as corticosteroids, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and a family history.

The study in ophthalmology found that those who took in high amounts of vitamin C in their diet had a one-third lower risk of developing cataracts over 10 years.

Getting vitamin C via a supplement did not appear to reduce the risk, the investigators found. Genetics probably account for 35pc of the risk of cataract progression, while diet and other environmental factors may account for the other 65pc.

It's important to note that this study can only show associations; it cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship between dietary vitamin C and cataracts. Vitamin C's strength as an antioxidant may play a part.

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