New Epidemiological Data

Proposed Interaction Between Oxidants, Antioxidants and Proteases
Resulting in Prolonged Function or Dysfunction

The Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research conducts epidemiological and laboratory research. The Nutrition and Vision Project is a collaboration with the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA, the Center for Ophthalmic Research, Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University, and the Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard University.

In the Nutrition and Vision Project we have observed that:

ANTIOXIDANTS

  • Provide protection against nuclear and cortical opacity.
  • The prevalence of nuclear opacities was significantly lower for women who used vitamin C supplements for >10 years relative to women who never used vitamin C supplements.
  • Higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, folate, a-carotene, and lutein/zeaxanthin were associated with lower risk for nuclear cataract.
  • Intake of vitamin C of 300 mg/ day provides benefit over intake of 140 mg/day (although the latter is twice the RDA). Intake of vitamin C in excess of about 300 mg/day appears to provide no additional benefit. Higher plasma, vitamin C and E is also inversely associated with lower prevalence of nuclear opacities.
  • There is a statistically significant decrease in prevalence of nuclear opacities with increasing duration of use of vitamin C, vitamin E, and multivitamin supplements.
  • For women < 60 years of age, having vitamin C intake >362 mg/day (vs <140 mg/day) was associated with decreased odds for cortical cataract, and use of vitamin C supplements >10 years was associated with 60% decreased odds for cortical cataract.
  • For posterior subcapsular cataract, in never smokers there was decreased odds if folate intake was >548 ug/day (vs <284 mg/day), 81% decreased odds in persons with higher (24 vs 12 mg/day) total carotenoid intake, 71% decreased odds in persons with higher alpha (1.2 vs 0.4 mg/day) or beta carotene intake (6.6 vs 3.0 mg/day).
  • Onset or progression of cataract over 5 years is diminished 29% in users of vitamin E supplements for >10 years.

CARBOHYDRATE

  • Carbohydrate intake is related to increased odds for cortical opacities.

OVERWEIGHT

  • Overweight with diabetes increases the odds for posterior subcapsular opacities.
  • Diabetes increases odds for PSC opacities 4-fold.
  • BMI > 30 or waist size > 89 (35″) is associated with two fold increase in prevalence of PSC opacities.

ALCOHOL

  • Consumption of hard alcohol is associated with increased risk for nuclear and cortical opacities. In contrast, moderate wine drinking decreases the risk for cortical opacities.

FOOD PATTERNS

  • Eating according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” is associated with decreased odds for nuclear opacities.

 

The Nutrition and Vision Project is conducted in collaboration with the following investigators:

    • Dr. W. Willett, Channing Laboratories, Harvard Medical School: provides Nurses Health Study cohort for Nutrition and Vision Project
    • Dr. Susan Hankinson, Channing Laboratories, Harvard Medical School: provides Nurses Health Study cohort for Nutrition and Vision Project
    • Dr. L. T. Chylack, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director, Center for Ophthalmic Research, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University: performs ophthalmologic exams for Nutrition and Vision Project; grades opacities