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A. G. Tan, J. J. Wang, G. Burlutsky, V. Flood, E. Rochtchina, G. L. Kanthan, R. G. Cumming, P. Mitchell, Blue Mountains Eye Study; Antioxidant Nutrient Intake and Incidence of Age-Related Cataract: Blue Mountains Eye Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):5455.
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To investigate relationships between antioxidant nutrient intake and the 5- and 10-year incidence of age-related cataract.
The Blue Mountains Eye Study examined 3654 participants aged 49+ years at baseline (1992-94); 2335 (75.1% of survivors) and 1952 persons (75.6% of survivors) were re-examined after 5 and 10 years, respectively. At each visit, participants underwent comprehensive eye examinations including lens photography. Interviews used standardised questionnaires including a 145-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). At the 5- and 10-year examinations, 1989 (85%) and 1683 (86.2%), respectively, had completed the FFQ at baseline. We constructed a nutrient database that included alpha- and beta-carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene, vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals iron and zinc. Lens photos were graded using the Wisconsin Cataract Grading System. Cortical cataract was defined for cortical opacity ≥ 5% of total lens area, nuclear cataract defined for nuclear opacity ≥ standard photo #4, and posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataract if present. Cataract incidence was defined as development of cataract in one or both eyes in subjects without cataract in either eye at baseline.
Participants with the highest quintile of vitamin C intake (from diet and supplements) had a reduced risk of 5-year incident nuclear cataract (adjusted odds ratio, OR, 0.54, 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.36-0.83) compared to participants in lower quintiles, after adjusting for multiple confounders. A similar reduction in the risk of 10-year incident nuclear cataract was observed in the highest quintile group (OR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.48-0.96). An above median value in the total intake of combined antioxidants (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) was associated with a reduced risk of incident nuclear cataract: adjusted OR 0.65; 95% CI, 0.43-0.98 after 5 years; OR 0.56; 95% CI, 0.39-0.79 after 10 years. Antioxidant intake was not significantly associated with the 5- or 10-year incidence of either cortical or PSC cataract.
Higher intake of vitamin C, or the combined intake of antioxidants from diet and supplements, afforded long-term protection against nuclear cataract (at both 5 & 10 years) in this older population. As nuclear cataract is a biological marker of ageing, our findings support beneficial effects on ageing from vitamin C and other antioxidants.
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