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New Study Shows Impact Of Vegetarian Diet On Cataract Formation

January 23, 2015


In a groundbreaking study, researchers at the University of Oxford compared the relative risk for cataract development in vegetarians and vegans against those who eat meat on a regular basis.

The study was performed on 27, 670 individuals over the age of 40. Participants were asked to fill out dietary surveys over the course of years between 1993-1999, and were examined for cataracts 2008-9. Of the total population of the study, 1,500 had developed cataracts.

Researchers then divided the population into the following categories based on their diet profiles. Falling into three groups based on meat, fish only, and vegetarian preference, the categories were:

high meat consumption (3.5 ounces or more per day); mid-range meat consumption (1.7-3.4 ounces per day); low-meat consumption (less than 1.7 ounces a day); fish eaters (fish only diet, otherwise no meat consumption); vegetarians (those who did not eat meat or fish but did eat dairy products and/or eggs); and vegans (those who did not eat meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs)

The study revealed that as meat consumption as part of a daily diet decreased, so too did the risk for cataracts:

  • Mid-range meat consumption: 4% decrease
  • Low-meat consumption: 15% decrease
  • Fish eaters: 21% decrease
  • Vegetarians: 30 decrease
  • Vegans: 40% decrease

The gender of those studied did not appear to be a factor in the risk for cataract formation. The age, however, of those at heightened d risk was 65 or older.

While this is the first study to track cataract development in relation to meat consumption or a vegetarian diet, other factors are thought to increase the risk of cataract formation. Smoking, diabetes, and exposure to bright light are thought to raise the chances of developing cataracts.

Cataracts are most often seen in older people. Currently over 20 million America suffer from a cataract in at least one eye. This figure is projected to increase to 30 million as the baby boomer generation ages.

While the most common cause of vision loss, cataracts are treatable. Modern topographic and laser technologies allow surgeons to make maps of each patient’s unique eye shape, allowing incisions to be smaller and more precise. The clouded lens is then emulsified and removed. A new lens is then inserted in its place. Because the procedure is so precise, the trauma to the eye is greatly reduced, often allowing patients to enjoy 20/20 vision.

Dr. Cary Silverman and the OCLI team are recognized leaders in providing the latest, state-of-the-art premium laser procedures to residents in the New Jersey and New York metro area. Dedicated to providing the most comprehensive level of service to our patients, our offices include a self-contained optical shop.

If you’re considering cataract surgery, the OCLI team can provide you with advice about the different procedures available, helping you find the solution that best serves your unique vision needs. Contact us today and schedule your appointment or checkup.


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