Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, the tissue that connects the eye to the brain. It causes progressive vision loss over time and is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide. About 3 million Americans have glaucoma. It’s estimated that nearly 80 million people suffer from glaucoma across the globe, a number that is expected to reach 111 million by 2040.
To better understand the possible effect of diet on the incidence of glaucoma, the researchers evaluated data from nearly 20,000 people. Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their healthy habits and diet every other year. They found that people who consumed high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, either as supplements or through food, were 47 percent less likely to develop glaucoma.
Surprisingly, the vitamins provided protection only when all three were taken together. Lead researcher Alejandro Fernandez-Montero, MD, PhD, suspects the vitamins might have a synergistic effect when consumed together.
“With my colleague Dr. Moreno-Montañés, we have performed several studies in the past regarding how leading healthy lifestyles, eating a Mediterranean diet, smoking or exercising relates to glaucoma, and I hope these new findings on vitamins inspire more thought on prevention,” Dr. Fernandez-Montero said. “I believe that it is important for ophthalmologists to focus on prevention work just as much as they do on advancing treatments.”
Dr. Fernandez-Montero notes that further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
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