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Low Vitamin C Linked to Cataract

PONDICHERRY, India—Low levels of vitamin C were linked to increased incidence of cataract in a vitamin-depleted population in India. Researchers from Aravind Eye Hospital Pondicherry conducted a population-based cross-sectional analytic study to examine the association between vitamin C and cataract in 5,638 people 60 years of age or older. Their results were published online ahead of print, June 25, in the journal Ophthalmology.

Participants were randomly sampled from villages in two areas of north and south India and interviewed for socioeconomic and lifestyle factors (tobacco, alcohol, household cooking fuel, work, and diet). The subjects were clinically examined , including the use of lens photography, and provided blood samples for antioxidant analysis—plasma vitamin C was measured using an enzyme-based assay in plasma stabilized with metaphosphoric acid, and other antioxidants were measured by reverse-phase high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). Researchers also graded cataract and cataract type using digital lens images and the Lens Opacity Classification System III (LOCS III).

The tests and analyses revealed vitamin C was significantly inversely associated with cataract, while lutein, zeaxanthin, retinol, β-carotene, and α-tocopherol were linked to a much smaller effect on cataract. On type of cataract (nuclear, posterior subcapsular or cortical), vitamin C had a similar inverse association, while the other antioxidants had no significantly observable association.


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