Quick Study

Quick Study: Healthful eating may keep cataracts at bay

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Healthful eating may keep cataracts at bay

THE QUESTION Might the foods people eat affect whether they develop cataracts?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 1,808 women 50 to 79 years old who had not had cataracts. In a four- to seven-year span, 736 developed a cataract. Women whose diets were deemed the most healthful -- high in fruits, vegetables, milk, grains and protein (meat, beans, fish or eggs) and low in fats, cholesterol and salt -- were 37 percent less likely to have developed a cataract than were those who consumed the least-healthful foods. Taking multivitamins or other supplements did not have an effect. The authors estimated that a healthful diet delayed the development of cataracts by about 2 1/2 years.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Women 50 and older. Cataracts, which cloud the lens of the eye, making vision blurry, become increasingly common as people grow older. More than half of all 80-year-olds have a cataract in at least one eye.

CAVEATS Dietary data came from the women's responses to questionnaires. Whether the findings apply to men remains unclear. People who ate healthfully may have had other attributes that affect cataract development.

FIND THIS STUDY June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT cataracts at http://www.nei.nih.gov and http://www.geteyesmart.org.

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

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