Age related cataracts are a significant cause of functional decline. A recent study has evaluated the relationship of diet to cataract risk (Appleby, Allen & Key).
In this study researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated age related cataract risk in 27,670 non-diabetic subjects over 40 years old. It was found that diet played a pivotal role in age-related cataract risk. For example, participants with the highest meat consumption had the greatest risk of developing cataracts, as did the participants reporting moderate meat consumption. Individuals who ate very little meat had a 15 percent reduction in cataract risk, while participants who ate only fish plus vegetarian foods reported a 21 percent lower risk. Finally, for strict vegetarians and vegans the risk of developing aged related cataracts was 30 and 40 percent lower, respectively.
Vegetarian and vegan diets, with healthful selections of whole, minimally-processed foods, are valuable for heart protection, cancer prevention, and many other health benefits. Cataract prevention is just one of them.
Appleby, P.N., Allen, N.E. & Key, T.J. Diet, vegetarianism, and cataract risk. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93, 5, 1128-1135.