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Antioxidants Associated with Lower Risk of Cataracts

Researchers studied 372 men and women, ranging in age from 66 to 75 years. Of these people, 245 had at least one of several common types of cataracts. The researchers measured blood levels of antioxidant carotenoids and Vitamins E and C.

Results: In this study, the lowest risk of nuclear cataracts (cataracts located in the central part of the lens) was in people with the highest blood levels of either alpha-carotene or beta-carotene. Specifically, people with high levels of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene were 50% and 30% respectively, less likely to develop nuclear cataracts.

In addition, people with high Lycopene levels were 60% less likely to develop cortical cataracts (in the outer layer of the lens).

Finally, people with the highest Lutein levels were 50% less likely to develop posterior subcapsular cataracts (located toward the bottom back of the lens).

High plasma concentrations of vitamins C and E or carotenoids zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin were not associated with decreased risk of cataracts.


Ophthalmology, 2001;108:1992-1998

Key concepts: Antioxidants, carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cataracts