Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Vitamin E May Help Prevent Cataracts

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Vitamin E May Help Prevent Cataracts

Article excerpt

Vitamin E May Help Prevent Cataracts

LA GRANGE, ILLINOIS: The statistics on cataracts are staggering. Among Americans age 60 to 75,20 percent have visually disabling cataracts. The cost of treating cataracts is soaring, too. Individuals are spending about $3.5 billion a year in cataract removal. Cataracts are the third leading cause of blindness, afflicting 400,000 people annually.

Faced with these numbers and the aging of our population, researchers are stepping up efforts to prevent cataracts or at least delay their onset.

Recent studies suggest that the risk of developing cataracts may be reduced by daily intake of vitamin E.

Two Canadian researchers report that vitamin E - in its role as an antioxidant - may help to prevent cataract formation.

Dr. James Robertson of the University of Western Canada compared the intake of antioxidant vitamins by 175 cataract patients and a like number of cataract-free individuals.

He found that the cataract-free group took significantly more vitamin E than the cataract patients and that individuals who took vitamin E supplements experienced a 56 percent decrease in cataract risk.

Robertson's colleague, Dr. John Trevithick, found that the addition of high levels of vitamin E to the diets of diabetic rats (who are especially prone to develop cataracts) reduced the leakage of lens protein into the fluids surrounding the eye, one of the indications of cataract formation.

What Causes Cataracts?

The function of the lens is to focus rays of light on the retina. In order for the process to produce a sharp image, the lens must be transparent. When a cataract, which is a clouded region in the lens of the eye, is present, light is scattered and vision becomes blurred. For at least half the population over age 65, cataracts are a problem.

There are several causes and forms of cataracts. The most common form is senile cataract, often the result of oxidative damage caused by free radicals. …

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