Long-term nutrient intake and 5-year change in nuclear lens opacities

Arch Ophthalmol. 2005 Apr;123(4):517-26. doi: 10.1001/archopht.123.4.517.


Objective: To determine if usual nutrient intake is related to a 5-year change in the amount of lens nuclear opacification assessed by computer-assisted image analysis.

Design: A sample of 408 Boston, Mass-area women from the Nurses' Health Study aged 52 to 74 years at baseline participated in a 5-year study related to nutrition and vision. Usual nutrient intake was calculated as the average intake from 5 food frequency questionnaires that were collected over a 13- to 15-year period before the baseline evaluation of lens nuclear density. Duration of vitamin supplement use before baseline was determined from 7 questionnaires collected during this same period. We assessed the degree of nuclear density (opacification) using computer-assisted image analysis of digital lens images with amount of nuclear density measured as a function of average pixel gray scale, ranging from 0 (clear) to 255 (black).

Results: Median (range) baseline and follow-up nuclear densities were 44 (19 to 102) and 63 (32 to 213). The median (range) 5-year change in nuclear density was 18 (-29 to 134) and was positively correlated with the amount of opacification at baseline (Spearman correlation coefficient = 0.35; P<.001). Geometric mean 5-year change in nuclear density was inversely associated with the intake of riboflavin (P trend = .03) and thiamin (P trend = .04) and duration of vitamin E supplement use (P trend = .006).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that long-term use of vitamin E supplements and higher riboflavin and/or thiamin intake may reduce the progression of age-related lens opacification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / physiopathology
  • Cataract / prevention & control*
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lens Nucleus, Crystalline / drug effects*
  • Lens Nucleus, Crystalline / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Riboflavin / administration & dosage
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thiamine / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Women's Health


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine