Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye begins to cloud. These manifest naturally from the normal aging of the body, but can also be caused by disease or injury, while it is rarely present from birth (congenital cataract).
The eye’s natural lens is located behind the iris (the colored part of the eye), inside a clear sac called the periscope.
Vitamin D may be an important factor in cataract prevention
British researchers claim that eating foods rich in vitamin C can prevent the appearance of cataracts in the eyes, according to data published in the scientific journal Ophthalmology.
This is the first twin study and shows that diet may play a larger role than genetic factors in the development and severity of cataracts, the most common cause of blindness in the elderly worldwide. According to epidemiological data, more than 20 million people worldwide are visually impaired or blind due to cataracts.
Researchers at King’s College London studied data obtained from more than 1,000 pairs of female twins, correlating each woman’s diet with the progression of her cataracts around the age of 60 and again ten years later. At the start of the study, women who ate a diet rich in vitamin C were 20% less likely to develop cataracts.
At the end of the study, after a decade, women who ate more foods with vitamin C had a 33% lower rate of cataract development.
Inherited genetic factors were estimated to be much less influential (35%) in cataract development than nutritional and environmental factors (65%). Therefore, scientists conclude that genetic factors may ultimately play less of a role in the development of cataracts than previously assumed.
The researchers emphasize that, at least from their research, it appears that the protective effect is derived from food (for example, fruits and vegetables) and not from dietary vitamin C supplementation.