According to the World Health Organization, cataracts, which cause the lens within the eye to become cloudy, are the leading cause of blindness in the world.
Researches at the King’s College in London have discovered that foods high in vitamin C may help prevent cataracts from developing.
The study involved following 1,000 sets of female twins over the course of more than a decade to see what changes in their diet might affect the development of cataracts.
The study focused specifically on twins in order to take into account what role genetics may have on the development of cataracts. As twins are genetically identical, environmental factors were the only difference between the siblings.
Their individual intake of several vitamins, nutrients, and food supplements was tracked, including vitamin C. In addition to monitoring their diets, eye exams were performed at the beginning of the study, with another performed a decade later, allowing researchers to compare the results.
Of the women studied, an increased intake of foods rich in vitamin C, such as grapefruit, broccoli, and strawberries, equated to a 33% risk reduction in cataract development and progression over a period of 10 years.
The details of the study show that these benefits are only received through consumption of
food, and not dietary supplements.
“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,” said study author Christopher Hammond, M.D., FRCOphth, professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London.
The thick, gelatinous fluid within the eye is typically rich with a compound very similar to vitamin C, which helps in preventing the oxidation that leads to clouding of the lens. Natural vitamin C is a very strong antioxidant, which is useful is in this process, adding extra protection.
An added discovery was made in regards to the twin siblings. Due to the controlled factor of identical genetics, the team was able to attribute 35% of cataract cases to genetics, and the remaining 65% to diet and lifestyle.