Vitamin E and age-related cataract in a randomized trial of women

Ophthalmology. 2008 May;115(5):822-829.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2007.06.040. Epub 2007 Dec 11.


Objective: To investigate whether vitamin E supplementation decreases the risk of age-related cataract in women.

Design: Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial.

Participants: Thirty-nine thousand eight hundred seventy-six apparently healthy female health professionals aged 45 years or older.

Intervention: Participants were assigned randomly to receive either 600 IU natural-source vitamin E on alternate days or placebo and were followed up for presence of cataract for an average of 9.7 years.

Main outcome measure: Age-related cataract defined as an incident, age-related lens opacity, responsible for a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity to 20/30 or worse, based on self-report and confirmed by medical record review.

Results: There was no significant difference between the vitamin E and placebo groups in the incidence of cataract (1159 vs. 1217 cases; relative risk [RR], 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88-1.04). In subgroup analyses of subtypes, there were no significant effects of vitamin E on the incidence of nuclear (1056 vs. 1127 cases; RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.87-1.02), cortical (426 vs. 461 cases; RR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.81-1.06), or posterior subcapsular cataract (357 vs. 359 cases; RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.86-1.16). Results were similar for extraction of cataract and subtypes. There was no modification of the lack of effect of vitamin E on cataract by baseline categories of age, cigarette smoking, multivitamin use, or several other possible risk factors for cataract.

Conclusions: These data from a large trial of apparently healthy female health professionals with 9.7 years of treatment and follow-up indicate that 600 IU natural-source vitamin E taken every other day provides no benefit for age-related cataract or subtypes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Acuity
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Women's Health*


  • Vitamin E