Proper nutrition is important at any age – especially in older adultsFox News website
Cataracts, the “clouding” of the eye lens, are a common vision problem in aging adults. It has been thought that a diet high in antioxidants and vitamin C can help reduce the risk of developing condition, but study results have been largely inconclusive.
In this new, India-based study, researchers looked at more than 5,600 adults aged 60 and older. Participants were interviewed about diet, lifestyle and family health history, in addition to having their blood measured for levels of vitamin C.
Close to 73 per cent of the study’s participants were diagnosed with having cataracts, a risk that dropped as vitamin C intake increased:
“In the roughly one-quarter of older adults with the highest vitamin C levels, the risk of cataract was 39 percent lower than in people with the lowest levels of the nutrient. That was with factors like income, smoking habits, high blood pressure
But vitamin C levels were generally very low. More than half of the study participants were deficient, and the bottom 30 percent of the group had vitamin C concentrations below the level of detection (2 micromoles per liter).”
While the findings do no conclusively prove that vitamin C can help prevent cataracts, senior researcher Astrid E. Fletcher believes that it is “biologically plausible”:
“Laboratory and animal studies show vitamin C plays a very important part in defending the lens of the eye against oxidative stress,” Fletcher explained in an email.
“The eye is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress as the ’seeing’ organ of the body,” she added. “Light is essential for vision but light is also very damaging. The lens absorbs ultraviolet radiation, a major source of oxidative stress.”
Fletcher does not recommend older adults “load up” on vitamin C supplements, as older adults in India face more significant nutritional challenges than adults living in more developed nations:
“India has the highest burden of blindness in the world,” Fletcher said, “and the main cause is cataract [and poor nutrition].”