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.