Nutritional Effect on Age-Related Cataract Formation and Progression

Ruti Sella; Natalie A. Afshari


Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2019;30(1):63-69. 

In This Article


Cataract is the principal blinding eye disease in the world[1] and is considered epidemic, affecting nearly 70 million people worldwide.[2] Visual impairment and blindness caused by cataract are expected to rise further with the aging of the world's population.

Numerous laboratory studies employing in-vitro or animal models, have shown that specific nutritional deficits may lead to the development and progression of age-related cataract (ARC), and have suggested a reduced risk of ARC with nutritional intervention.[3,4–10] Given the complexity of nutritional studies in human, however, the relationship between the intake/deficiency of a specific nutrient or a distinct diet, and the risk of ARC, is far more elusive and difficult to validate. The challenges in isolating a specific culprit agent result from the multifaceted and individual nature of nutrients absorption, the interaction between nutrients, socioeconomic and geographic or culturally inherited differences in diet between individuals and suspected partial compliance with long-term dietary supplements. It is, therefore, safe to assume that nutrition does play a somewhat significant role in the multifactorial cataractogenous process, which investigators are yet to fully elucidate. Moreover, intestinal microbiome, which was shown to be of importance in uveitis pathogenesis among other pathologic processes[11] is yet to be explored for its possible influence over cataract formation and progression.

Although earlier studies focused research endeavors on antioxidants' impact on cataract development and progression,[4–6] later studies investigated the role of carbohydrates, fatty acids, proteins, carotenoids and nutraceuticals.[10,12,13,14] Recent studies aimed at evaluating the contribution of different diet types such as a Mediterranean diet,[15] and a high dairy intake[16] to the evolution of cataract. Several pertinent reviews previously summarized the body of knowledge regarding the influence of nutrition over cataract, each from a different aspect.[3,17,18,19]

In this current review, we aim to briefly conclude what has been so far learned about nutritional impact on the development and progression of ARC, with a focus on the latest (2014–2018) studies and findings in this field.