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Vitamin C, cataracts and free radical damage, here's how to protect your eyes and vision

Vitamin C, cataracts and free radical damage, here's how to protect your eyes and vision

A healthy and balanced diet can also support vision health by protecting the eye from the aging process, damage from UV rays and the onset of cataracts. This is thanks to the contribution of vitamin C, a vitamin with an antioxidant action, as evidenced by a recent review appeared in the Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a team from New Zealand (Lim et al, Nutrients, 2020).

Vitamin C and eye health

Vitamin C is also present in the eye. In fact, this vitamin is found both in the crystalline and in the aqueous and vitreous humors in which the crystalline is immersed. The role of vitamin C is to protect the eye from damage from UV rays and free radicals and to stimulate the regeneration of vitamin E and glutathione, substances with a powerful antioxidant action. With age and due to certain conditions such as diabetes, cataracts can arise, which is a condition of opacification of the lens. As the years pass, the presence of vitamin C in the lens decreases and this is associated with an increase in the severity of cataracts. Not only that, low blood levels of vitamin C caused by a poorly varied diet are reflected in a decrease in vitamin C in the lens and an increased risk of cataracts. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that supplementing with vitamin C can protect the eye from aging processes and counteract cataracts, thus avoiding surgery. However, the studies performed so far do not seem to agree with each other. This is why the New Zealand researchers decided to compare the results obtained previously from other research groups with each other and try to clarify this topic.

Vitamin C and cataract risk

What emerged is that vitamin C actually has a protective action on sight, helping to reduce the risk of onset of cataracts. However, there are exceptions. In particular, the intake of vitamin C through supplements proves beneficial only if there is a real deficiency of vitamin C in the blood. If the vitamin C values are normal, an excess of this vitamin has instead led to an increased risk of cataracts.


In general, therefore, unless an actual deficiency of vitamin C has been detected, a good choice is to prefer, rather than supplements, a balanced and varied diet, rich in fruit and vegetables capable of guaranteeing a constant and regular vitamin C intake, without excess. In addition, it is also important for vision health to limit all those factors that could increase the risk of cataracts, such as steroids, sun rays without adequate protection and diabetes, trying to follow a healthy and active lifestyle.
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