Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of cataracts than meat-eaters

Another point for the vegetarians!  There is a new British study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (it's in the March 2011 issue, if you want to read it) that concludes that vegetarians and vegans have a much lower risk of cataracts than meat-eaters. 

The researchers monitored the medical records of 27,670 non-diabetic people aged 40 or over to see if and when they developed cataracts. They found a strong correlation between a person's diet and cataract risk.

One remarkable thing about the correlation is that the risk was highest for high meat eaters (those that eat more than 3.5 ounces of meat a day).  The next highest risk was for moderate meat eaters, then low meat eaters, followed by fish eaters (people who eat fish but no other meat).  Vegetarians and vegans had the lowest risk. This means that reducing your meat consumption, even if you do not become fully vegetarian, will reduce cataract risk.  There was a big difference in risk between vegans and meat eaters.  The risk for vegans was about 40 percent lower than it was for the high meat eater category.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye's crystalline lens that usually develops slowly over time. (In the case of post-traumatic cataracts, however, they can also occur very quickly.) It is the leading cause of poor vision in adults.

What if you have cataracts?

I routinely diagnose cataracts and if surgery is required to remove them, I refer patients to a good surgeon.  With today's surgical techniques the surgery can be as quick as 15 minutes!  However, all surgery has some risk and should not be undertaken lightly. 

And with cataract surgery it will cost you several hundred dollars for a good quality replacement lens if you want the best vision (MSP pays for the most basic lens but it is definately far from the best).  It is always better to prevent the condition for occurring.

Watch this video to learn how cataract surgery is done.  The video makes it look simple but there is much more to it than the video suggests.