Vitamin E and selenium's cataract prevention abilities questioned by cohort

By Annie Harrison-Dunn contact

- Last updated on GMT

Vitamin E and selenium cataract prevention questioned

Related tags: Selenium, Dietary supplement, Vitamin e, Prostate cancer

Vitamin E and selenium supplementation is unlikely to impact the progression of age-related cataracts in men, as suggested by previous research, according to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmol.

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School looked at the effects of selenium and vitamin E on 11,267 men that had been simultaneously taking part in a huge prostate cancer prevention cohort study.

"These randomized trial data from a large cohort of apparently healthy men indicate that long-term daily supplemental use of vitamin E has no material impact on cataract incidence," ​the researchers wrote.

"The data also exclude any large beneficial effect on cataract for long-term supplemental use of selenium, with or without vitamin E, although a smaller but potentially important beneficial effect could not be ruled out."​ 

Supplementing sight

The men – aged 50 years and older if they were black and 55 years and older otherwise – were asked to report on cataract diagnosis and removal. They took either a placebo, selenium (200 micrograms from L-selenomethionine), vitamin E (400 international units of all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate) or a combination of the two each day.

During an average of 5.6 years of the varying treatments, 389 cases of cataracts were recorded - 185 in the selenium group and 204 in the groups that didn't take selenium. There were 197 cases of cataracts in the vitamin E only group and 192 in the placebo group. A similar breakdown was seen for the rate of removal of cataracts.  

The researchers defined a cataract as age-related lens opacity that lead to a reduction in best-corrected visual sharpness to 20/30 or worse based on self reports, which were then medically confirmed.

A long research story 

These results seem to swim against findings in February​ that suggested long-term supplementation of multivitamins – including vitamin E - could reduce the risk of developing a cataract in men by around 9%.

Equally, research published back in 2005 in Archives of Ophthalmology​ suggested that vitamin supplementation, in particular vitamin E, for a period of five years lowered women's chances of developing the visual condition. 

Source: JAMA Ophthalmol

Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.3478

“Age-Related Cataract in Men in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial Eye Endpoints Study”

Authors: W. G. Christen, R. J. Glynn, J. M. Gaziano, A. K. Darke, J. J. Crowley, P. J. Goodman, S. M. Lippman, T. E. Lad, J. D. Bearden, G. E. Goodman, L. M. Minasian, I. M. Thompson Jr, C. D. Blanke, E. A. Klein

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Lutein. The Next New Vitamin?

Lutein. The Next New Vitamin?

Out of the 600 or more carotenoids found in nature, only three are found in the macula of the eye—lutein, RR-zeaxanthin and RS (meso)-zeaxanthin. These...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars