Purpose: To examine the incidence of cataract and cataract extraction in a trial of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
Methods: In a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial, 5442 female health professionals aged 40 years or older with preexisting cardiovascular disease (CVD) or three or more CVD risk factors were randomly assigned to receive a combination of folic acid (2.5 mg/day), vitamin B6 (50 mg/day), and vitamin B12 (1 mg/day), or placebo. A total of 3925 of these women did not have a diagnosis of cataract at baseline and were included in this analysis. The primary endpoint was 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 confirmed by medical record review. Extraction of incident age-related cataract was a secondary endpoint of the trial.
Results: During an average of 7.3 years of treatment and follow-up, 408 cataracts and 275 cataract extractions were documented. There were 215 cataracts in the combination treatment group and 193 in the placebo group (hazard ratio, HR, 1.10, 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.90-1.33; p = 0.36). For the secondary endpoint of cataract extraction, there were 155 in the combination treatment group and 120 in the placebo group (HR 1.28, 95% CI 1.01-1.63; p = 0.04).
Conclusions: In this large-scale randomized trial of women at high risk of CVD, daily supplementation with a combination of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 had no significant effect on cataract, but may have increased the risk of cataract extraction.
Keywords: Cataract; Women’s Antioxidant Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study; folic acid; randomized controlled trial; supplements; vitamin B12; vitamin B6.