Better Eyes for Women who are Healthy Eaters

November 12, 2012

Better Eyes for Women who are Healthy Eaters

A new report recently published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has suggested that a good diet, in addition to aiding the bones and heart whilst keeping the body at a good weight can also benefit your eyes.

It was established after more than 1800 women had taken part in a study. The group who followed the suggested dietary plan of the nation had a 37% lower risk for nuclear cataracts which for the most part is the reason for visual impairment in the United States. The suggested dietary plan recommended eating more fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Beans, fish and eggs are suggested as a method to get lean protein and make sure that you reduce your salt and sugar intake.

The connection to nuclear cataracts remained after taking into account non-dietary associated features.

It was noted that obesity and smoking, in addition to poor diet were factors in the risk of developing cataracts. Features of the eye also had a bearing, for example brown eyed people have a higher risk of cataracts, as do people who are near sighted or with high blood pressure.

It was also seen that taking multivitamin supplements did not change the risk of cataracts.

Americans are Susceptible to Cataracts

The study, carried out by the University of Wisconsin in Madison, consisted of a questionnaire being filled in by almost 2,000 women as part of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The study took place from 2001 until 2004 and the questionnaires related to eating habits between 1994 and 1998. The women who took part were all aged between 50 and 79. Men were not considered as part of this study.

Photos and reports which were self assessed were the major means of assessing the incidence of cataracts.

Cataracts risk increases with age and cataracts are so widespread that treating them has resulted in a heavy financial burden. Looking to the future cutting the risk for cataracts today could eventually supply cost savings. “Surgery to remove lenses with cataracts accounts for approximately 60% of vision-related Medicare expenditure” writes study researcher Julie A. Mares.

Mares and colleagues said their results suggest that several risk factors, including diet, may well be within the control of the individual.

In excess of 20 million Americans aged 40 and older have cataracts according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and by the time they are octogenarians half of all Americans have cataracts.

The researchers point out, “Results from this study indicate that healthy diets, which reflect adherence to the U.S. dietary guidelines at the time of the entry in the … study are more strongly related to the lower occurrence of nuclear cataracts than any other modifiable risk factor or protective factor studied in this sample of women. Lifestyle improvements that include healthy diets, smoking cessation, and avoiding obesity may substantively lower the need for and economic burden of cataract surgery in aging American women”.

The research team note that cataract risk was not “driven by any single dimension of diet”. Another factor which was seen during the study was that the women most likely to have a healthy balanced diet were also the most likely to work at managing their weight, they would have more education, be more likely to be non smokers, be older and more physically active than those with higher cataract risks.

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