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Adequate folate intakes may support eye health

April 25, 2014

A new US study reports that adults with increased intakes of folate may reduce their risk of developing an age-related eye disease which can lead to glaucoma.

Based on diet questionnaires the prospective cohort study estimated the intakes of B vitamins of 78’980 wo- men and 41’221 men (40 years or older) and documented cases of exfoliation glaucoma during up to
30 years (1). The study results showed that participants with higher folate intakes had a lower risk of developing the eye disease and decreased blood homocysteine levels compared to participants with low intakes. Vitamin B6 and B12 intakes were not related to disease risk.

The researchers commented that folate may support eye health by positively influencing homocysteine levels. High blood levels of this amino acid have been linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The new insights may give a better understanding of how exfoliation glaucoma progresses, which can help to develop interventions or treatments that prevent this blinding disease. The exfoliation syndrome is an age- related disease in which abnormal fibrillar extracellular material is produced and accumulates in many ocular tissues. The syndrome has been recognized as the most common identifiable cause of glaucoma (2).

References

  1. Kang J. H. et al. A Prospective Study of Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 Intake in Relation to Exfoliation Glaucoma or Suspected Exfoliation Glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmology. Published online April 2014.
  2. Ritch R. and Schlötzer-Schrehardt U. Exfoliation syndrome. Surv Ophthalmol. 2001; 45(4):265-315.