Food components and ocular pathophysiology: a critical appraisal of the role of oxidative mechanisms

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2017;26(4):572-585. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.082016.01.


Background and objectives: Three of the major ocular diseases, namely cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma are associated with oxidative damage. Disease risk and progression may be reduced through consumption of dietary components. To critically examine the literature on dietary and supplemental intakes of fruit and vegetables, meat, antioxidants (vitamins C, E and A), calcium, folate, iron, and their association with ocular disease.

Methods and study design: Google Scholar and key references from texts and publications were searched using search terms (eye disease, antioxidants), (vision, nutrition), no date restriction, only articles in English were included.

Results: We found probable evidence that dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, and vitamin C lowered incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. In high supplemental doses, vitamin C increases macular degeneration risk. Vitamin A from food was protective for cataracts and glaucoma, but not in supplemental form. Vitamin A was associated with lower incidence of macular degeneration. We also found probable evidence that higher intakes of meat increased the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Dietary calcium and iron appeared protective against glaucoma, but not in supplemental form.

Conclusions: While a nutrient rich diet high in fruit and vegetables, and associated antioxidants appeared to be protective, we would caution intake of supplementary antioxidants for those with ocular disease.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Diet
  • Glaucoma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology*
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants