Lutein and Zeaxanthin Can Help Prevent Nuclear Cataracts in Women

Women who eat plenty of green vegetables may decrease their risk of nuclear cataracts. Nuclear cataract is the most common type of cataract among older Americans.

Authors of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Disease Study (CAREDS) report that women with diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin have a lower prevalence of nuclear cataract. Lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients found in green vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnip greens and broccoli. Learn more about good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Participants in this study were 1082 women with intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin above the 78th (high) or below the 28th (low) percentile. These women (from Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon) ranged in age from 50 to 79.

Researchers evaluated associations between nuclear cataracts and lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum of patients. Nuclear cataract was determined from slit-lamp photographs. Lutein and zeaxanthin the diet were estimated from a validated, semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Serum levels of lutein, zeaxanthin and tocopherols were determined at Tufts University by a reverse-phase HPLC analysis.

Women in the group with high dietary levels of lutein and zeaxanthin had a 23% lower prevalence of nuclear cataract compared with the low level group.

In 2006 the authors of CAREDS found that a stable intake of lutein and zeaxanthin over time could also reduce the risk of AMD in healthy women. Read more about the results of this study.

Read more about cataracts.

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SOURCE: Associations Between Age-Related Nuclear Cataract and Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Diet and Serum in the Carotenoids in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS), an Ancillary Study of the Women’s Health Initiative, Moeller et al, Arch Ophthalmol. 2008; 126(3): 354-364.