Eye health – the role of lutein

Dr Paul Clayton 2002

Paper after paper has confirmed the role of lutein (the carotene in spinach and broccoli) in protecting against macular degeneration, a major cause of loss of vision in the middle-aged and elderly.

Now new evidence is coming in that cataract, the other main cause of blindness, can similarly be fought off with supplements. But unsurprisingly, as the lens and retina are very different tissues, lens protection requires rather different micro-nutrients.

In a UK multi-centre trial, patients with early cataract were given high-dose Vitamins E, C and beta carotene; and the recently published results show that this combination, rudimentary though it was, significantly reduced the development of cataracts.

The scientists described the protection as sufficient to reduce the number of cataract operations by nearly 50% – representing a huge saving in medical costs and improved quality of life for those taking micro-nutrient supplements.


Chylak LT et al, Opthalmic Epidemiology 9:49-80, 02