If you want to prevent cataracts in old age what should you do? Protect your eyes with sunglasses, don’t smoke, but what about your diet?
Carrots probably come to mind, vitamin A is good for your eyes, and this is true, a lack of vitamin A in your diet will lead to night blindness and in more severe cases complete blindness. A paper published in the journal Ophthalmology has found that vitamin C in the diet is more important that vitamin A in terms of decreasing your chances of developing cataracts. But before we jump on the “forget carrots, eat oranges” bandwagon let’s take a look at what the paper is actually saying.
Over a ten year study period, 35% of nuclear cataracts that occurred were caused by a genetic factor. So 65% were down to environment. In this 65%, dietary vitamin C intake (and possibly manganese) were associated with nuclear cataracts. More precisely, those with more vitamin C in their diet had less chance of developing cataracts. Manganese also seemed to have a similar effect but the connection was not as strong.
They do state though, that the association is with dietary vitamin C, i.e. not supplements. The number of people in the trial taking vitamin C supplements was very low and so they could not come to any conclusion as to whether or not supplements would have the same effect. That means they simply do not know if supplements would have the same effect. But if you want to play it safe, up the amount of vitamin C in your food to keep cataracts at bay, but I wouldn’t give up on the carrots just yet. Night blindness and cataracts are not the same thing.