A long-term daily use of multivitamin as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements may significantly lower the risk of developing cataract in men.
The randomized controlled trial documented cases of cataract among 14,641 male physicians age 50 and older who took a common daily multivitamin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene supplements, or a placebo for 14 years (1). The study results showed that the risk of developing cataract was reduced by 9% in the group who supplemented compared to the placebo group. This risk was even lower, at 13%, for nuclear cataract, the most common variety of cataract associated with the aging process.
The researchers commented that even a modest 10% reduction in cataract risk would nonetheless have a large public health impact, given that an estimated 10 million adults in the United States have impaired vision due to cataract. Regarding another common eye disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the use of antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements, including high daily doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper only for patients who have intermediate or advanced AMD (2). More recent results suggest lutein and zeaxanthin may be an appropriate substitution for beta-carotene in the formulation (3).