A new study has suggested that women who eat foods rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals may have a lower risk of developing the most common type of cataract. Julie A. Mares, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues studied 1,808 women (age 55 to 86) who participated in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease study, residing in Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon. The estimates of daily food and nutrition intake were made from previous responses to a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire used at the time as part of the Women’s Health Initiative study. Additionally, “adherence to the 1990 dietary guidelines for Americans and the 1992 food guide pyramid, reflecting dietary recommendations at the time women entered the Women’s Health Initiative, was estimated by the 1995 Healthy Eating Index scores adapted to this questionnaire.” Foods that contributed to higher diet scores were intakes at or above recommended levels for vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, meat (or beans, fish or eggs) and below recommended levels for fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
According to the study, nuclear cataract was common in the sample with 29 per cent (454 women) reporting the eye disease with a lens in at least one eye. Additionally, 282 women (16 per cent) had reported cataract extractions in either eye. Overall, 736 women (41 per cent) had either nuclear cataracts evident from lens photographs or reported having a cataract extracted. “Results from this study indicate that healthy diets, which reflect adherence to the U.S. dietary guidelines at the time of entry in the Women’s Health Initiative study, are more strongly related to the lower occurrence of nuclear cataracts than any other modifiable risk factor or protective factor studied in this sample of women,” the study said.
The study has been published in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.