Diets rich in vitamin C provide a person with multiple benefits, but now researchers believe it also has another use for a more serious condition: cataracts.
“While we cannot totally avoid developing cataracts, we may be able to delay their onset and keep them from worsening significantly by eating a diet rich in vitamin C,” study lead researcher Dr. Christopher Hammond said in a news release from the journal Ophthalmology, published online March 23, 2016.
Scientists note that cataracts are naturally occurring as people age, causing the lens of the eye to become cloudy. And while cataracts can be removed, they are still the leading cause of blindness around the world.
The new study featured more than 1,000 pairs of 60-year-old British female twins. Researchers say that they discovered those who took in large amounts of vitamin C in their diet were one-third less likely to develop cataracts over a 10-year period.
Researchers went on to note that taking vitamin C as a supplement to diet did not appear to lower the risk; only through dietary intake was the risk mitigated.
As CBS News reported:
The study is the first to show that diet and lifestyle may play a more important role than genetics in cataract development and severity, according to the researchers.
Based on the findings, Hammond’s team now believes that a person’s genetics probably account for 35 percent of the risk of cataract progression, while diet and other environmental factors may account for the other 65 percent.
Protects Against Progression of Cataracts
Researchers pointed out that it was important to remember the study only shows associations and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the vitamin C and the prevention of cataracts.
“The most important finding was that vitamin C intake from food seemed to protect against cataract progression,” said Hammond, who is professor of ophthalmology at Kings College London.
The nutrient’s ability to act as an antioxidant could help explain how it is able to reduce the risk of cataract progression, the research team said. Normally, the fluid inside of the eye is high in vitamin C, which helps prevent oxidation that ultimately leads to clouding of the eye lens. A vitamin C-rich diet may increase the vitamin content in the eye fluid, which then provides additional protection against
Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told CBS News, “the finding that vitamin C intake can retard cataract formation is a new finding that changes the way we think of cataract formation.”
Now, he said, doctors have a new understanding that “diet clearly is important in slowing the progression of cataracts, the most blinding form of eye disease worldwide.”
75 years of Benefits
Other experts agreed.
“This is a well-designed, prospective study that confirms what ophthalmologists have always suspected — that a well-balanced diet that includes foods that give us a boost of antioxidants is critical to preventing damage and the ageing of our eyes,” Dr. Carolyn Shih, director of research in ophthalmology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, NY, told CBS NEWS
“Šeating foods high in vitamin C — such as kale, broccoli, papaya, citrus fruits and strawberries — as essential as using sunglasses to prevent cataracts as we age,” she added.
In addition, vitamin C has long been considered one of the best defenders against the common cold. In October 2013, Natural News reported that vitamin C had been linked to cure or reduce the incidence of 30 diseases.
“Over 75 years of medical research and clinical practice reveals, overwhelmingly, that vitamin C has the power to ignite the ‘self-healing response,” we noted.