The role of past intake of vitamin E in early cataract changes

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 1999 Jun;6(2):105-12. doi: 10.1076/opep.


Purpose: We examined the association between prior supplementation of vitamin E and early cataract changes in volunteers currently enrolled in the cross-sectional VECAT study. The Vitamin E and Cataract Prevention Study (VECAT) is a clinical trial currently in progress, designed to assess the affect of vitamin E supplementation on the development and progression of cataract and age-related macular degeneration.

Methods: A history of vitamin E supplementation was ascertained through a self-administered questionnaire that was mailed to each of the 1,111 participants who were enrolled at the time in the prospective VECAT Study.

Results: With a 99% response rate, we found that 26% of participants reported prior supplementation of vitamin E. Only 8.8% of these participants took supplementation greater than the recommended daily intake (RDI) of 10 mg/day. Of these 26%, 57% took supplementation in the form of multivitamins as opposed to a vitamin E supplement on its own. The range of supplement intake ranged from as little as 0.1 mg/day to a maximum of 55 mg/day. A statistically significant association was found between prior supplementation and the absence of cortical opacity (OR = 0.47, 95%CI = 0.28-0.83), after adjusting for age. The levels of nuclear opacity (NO) were not statistically different between those who reported intake and those with no prior vitamin E supplementation.

Conclusion: Prior vitamin E supplementation may protect VECAT participants from developing at least early cortical cataracts. No apparent protective role in terms of nuclear opacities and nuclear color was found regardless of the level, regularity or duration of intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / physiopathology
  • Cataract / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*


  • Vitamin E