Healthy Foods and Cataract Prevention


People who regularly take a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may show a decreased risk of cataracts. Consumption of fish also has been linked to potentially reduced risk of cataracts or their progression.

Here is a sample of recent research that suggests a healthy diet and specific eye vitamins may help prevent cataracts:

  • A team of Swedish researchers conducted a multi-year study on more than 30,000 women and found that women whose diet contained the highest total antioxidant capacity (TAC) were significantly less likely to develop cataracts compared with those whose diets were low in antioxidants. The main contributors to dietary TAC in the study population were fruit and vegetables, whole grains and coffee.
  • A large study of adult women in Iowa found that eating foods rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals may help delay the development of cataracts. In an earlier study published in the same journal, the same researchers found diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are moderately associated with decreased prevalence of cataracts in older women.
  • A group of researchers in Australia found that a diet high in carbohydrates may increase cataract risk. Evaluation of the eating habits of more than 1,600 adults revealed that individuals in the top 25 percent for total carbohydrate intake had more than three times the risk for cataracts than those in the lowest 25 percent for carbohydrate intake.
  • Another study in Australia, conducted on more than 2,400 older adults for 10 years, found that higher intakes of vitamin C or the combined intake of multiple antioxidants reduced the risk of cataracts in this population.
  • A Japanese study linked cataract formation to oxidative stress associated with decreased levels of antioxidants in the lenses of affected eyes.

Many experts believe that all these nutrients, antioxidants should be acquired from a healthy diet rather than from nutritional supplements. But if you are like most other people, it’s likely that your diet lacks key nutrients because you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Therefore, it’s wise to consider taking one or more daily nutritional supplements to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for optimum eye health.

Prior to embarking on a regimen of eye vitamins and other nutritional supplements, consult your ophthalmologist. In some cases, taking too much of a specific vitamin or nutrient could be harmful to your health.