Nutrition and the prevention of cataracts

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Purpose of reviewOxidative stress is a major cause of cataract development. Numerous studies have been published regarding the effects of nutritional supplementation on cataract progression.Recent findingsBasic science research has demonstrated a protective effect of antioxidants on lens tissue, and supplementation with vitamin C and lutein/zeaxanthin has been associated with a decreased risk of cataract formation in multiple observational studies. One large interventional trial demonstrated a significant difference in participants treated with high-dose vitamin C versus placebo, but a more recent interventional study did not replicate these findings. In a review of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, the Food and Drug Administration concluded there is insufficient evidence to suggest that supplementation with these carotenoids lowers the risk of cataract formation. While high doses of multivitamins, antioxidants, or lutein and zeaxanthin are unlikely to be of significant ophthalmic benefit to the general public, these nutrients may help individuals exposed to high oxidative stress, such as heavy smokers, and those with poor nutrition.SummarySupplementation with vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, or a multivitamin may help certain populations, but is unlikely to affect the progression of cataracts in most patients.

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