Long-term vitamin C supplement use and prevalence of early age-related lens opacities


Jacques PF, Taylor A, Hankinson SE




Am J Clin Nutr


We designed the present study to examine the cross-sectional relation between age-related lens opacities and vitamin C supplement use over a 10-12-y period before assessment of lens status in women without diagnosed cataract or diabetes. This design avoids biased measurement of nutrient intake that results when knowledge of lens opacities influences nutrition-related behavior or its reporting. The participants were 247 Boston-area women aged 56-71 y selected from the Nurses' Health Study cohort with oversampling of women with high or low vitamin C intakes. Lens opacities were graded with the Lens Opacification Classification System II. Use of vitamin C supplements for > or = 10 y (n = 26) was associated with a 77% lower prevalence of early lens opacities (odds ratio: 0.23; 95% CI: 0.09, 0.60) at any lens site and a 83% lower prevalence of moderate lens opacities (odds ratio: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.85) at any lens site compared with women who did not use vitamin C supplements (n = 141) after adjustment for age and other potentially confounding variables. Women who consumed vitamin C supplements for < 10 y showed no evidence of a reduced prevalence of early opacities. These data, together with data from earlier experimental and epidemiologic studies, suggest that long- term consumption of vitamin C supplements may substantially reduce the development of age-related lens opacities.