JAMA logoA cataract is known to be a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Experts share that women in the United States who eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals reduce their chances of developing the most common type of cataract. The condition is said to be the most significant cause of blindness in the world and may increase with dominance in age. In the United States, cataract is observed to be the cause of visual impairment due to eye disease.

Limited studies examined nutritional risk factors together with lifestyle, visual health, and physical risk factors. Julie A. Mares, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues evaluated 1,808 women who participated in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease study these participants resided in Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon. Information about daily food and nutrition intake were collected from previous responses to a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. This questionnaire was used as a part of the Women’s Health Initiative study.

The 1995 Healthy Eating Index scores tailored to the questionnaire and projected the 1990 dietary guidelines for Americans and the 1992 food guide pyramid, which reflected dietary suggestions when women entered the Women’s Health Initiative. It was observed that women reporting the disease with a lens in atleast one eye had nuclear cataract. Further 282 women reported cataract extractions in either eye. Overall 736 women had either cataract extracted or reported nuclear cataracts from lens photographs.

The study shares that, “Results from this study indicate that healthy diets, which reflect adherence to the U.S. dietary guidelines at the time of entry in the Women’s Health Initiative 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”.

According to the authors, this study is an addition to the body of literature signifying that healthy diets are related with lower risk for cataract. In addition they reveal that lifestyle improvements like healthy diets, abstaining from cigarettes, and avoiding obesity may reduce the necessity for a cataract surgery specifically among aging American women.

This study is according to a report in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.