Age-related cataract in a randomized trial of vitamins E and C in men

Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Nov;128(11):1397-405. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.266.


Objective: To test whether supplementation with alternate-day vitamin E or daily vitamin C affects the incidence of age-related cataract in a large cohort of men.

Methods: In a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial, 11,545 apparently healthy US male physicians 50 years or older without a diagnosis of cataract at baseline were randomly assigned to receive 400 IU of vitamin E or placebo on alternate days and 500 mg of vitamin C or placebo daily.

Main outcome measure: Incident cataract responsible for a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity to 20/30 or worse based on self-report confirmed by medical record review.

Application to clinical practice: Long-term use of vitamin E and C supplements has no appreciable effect on cataract.

Results: After 8 years of treatment and follow-up, 1174 incident cataracts were confirmed. There were 579 cataracts in the vitamin E-treated group and 595 in the vitamin E placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.88-1.11). For vitamin C, there were 593 cataracts in the treated group and 581 in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-1.14).

Conclusion: Long-term alternate-day use of 400 IU of vitamin E and daily use of 500 mg of vitamin C had no notable beneficial or harmful effect on the risk of cataract.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT00270647.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Cataract / prevention & control
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Visual Acuity
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*


  • Antioxidants
  • Drug Combinations
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid

Associated data