Background: Cataract is among the major causes of vision impairment and blindness worldwide. Epidemiological studies support the role of antioxidants in the etiology of cataract, but the evidence for one specific antioxidant over another is inconsistent. Few studies have examined the association of cataract with fruit and vegetable intake with inconclusive results. In the present study, the relationship between cataract and fruit and vegetable intake and dietary and blood levels of carotenoids, vitamins C and E were examined in a Spanish Mediterranean population.
Methods: The present work is an analysis of data from 599 elderly ( ≥ 65 years) participants from the Spanish segment of the EUREYE study. This is a European multi-center cross-sectional population-based study. Cataract was diagnosed using a slit-lamp examination and defined as any lens opacity in either eye or evidence of its removal (cataract extraction). Energy-adjusted intake of fruit and vegetables and antioxidant vitamins was estimated using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Plasma concentrations of vitamin C were analyzed by a colorimetric method and carotenoids and α-tocopherol by a HPLC method. The associations between cataract and quartiles of fruit and vegetable intake and plasma antioxidants were investigated using logistic regression models.
Results: Of the 599 elderly recruited, 433 (73%) had cataract or cataract extraction, 54% were women and 46% were men. After adjustments, increasing quartiles of combined fruit and vegetable intake were associated with decreasing reduction of odds of cataract or cataract extraction, (P for trend = 0.008). Increasing quartiles of dietary intakes from 107 mg/d of vitamin C showed a significant decreasing association with prevalence of cataract or cataract extraction (P for trend = 0.047). For vitamin E, a protective association was found from intakes from 8 mg/d, but no linear trend was observed across quartiles of intake (P for trend = 0.944).
Conclusions: High daily intakes of fruit and vegetables and vitamins C and E were associated with a significantly decreased of the prevalence of cataract or cataract surgery. This study reinforces the WHO recommendations on the benefits of diets rich in fruit and vegetables.