Serum ascorbic acid and other correlates of self-reported cataract among older Americans

J Clin Epidemiol. 1999 Dec;52(12):1207-11. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(99)00110-9.


The purpose of this study was to examine the correlates of self-reported cataract among older Americans, and specifically, to determine whether serum ascorbic acid levels are associated with a decreased prevalence of cataract. A national probability survey of Americans, the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II), was conducted between 1976 and 1980. A total of 4001 participants were included between the ages of 60 and 74 years with data on serum ascorbic acid level and other variables of interest. A total of 252 women (12%) and 164 men (9%) reported a history of cataract. Serum ascorbic acid level was inversely associated with prevalence of cataract in multiple logistic regression analyses; each 1 mg/dl increase was independently associated with a 26% decrease in cataract (P = 0.03). Other independent correlates of cataract included increasing age, female sex, smoking, and diabetes mellitus (all P<0.01). We identified four correlates of cataract among older Americans: serum ascorbic acid level, increasing age, smoking, and diabetes mellitus. Ascorbic acid, a water-soluble antioxidant found in high concentrations in the lens, may be of importance for the prevention of cataract among older Americans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Cataract / blood
  • Cataract / epidemiology
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Disclosure
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbic Acid