The right combination of vitamins can help prevent glaucoma

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Newswise – CHICAGO, Illinois. – While it’s no surprise that a vitamin-rich diet benefits your overall health, the relationship between diet and glaucoma is unclear. Previous studies offer conflicting results; some indicate that diet can help prevent glaucoma, but others have found no effect on incidence rates. The Spanish SUN study (University of Navarra follow-up study) followed participants for an average of 12 years and suggests that people who consume large amounts of a specific combination of vitamins could cut their risk of glaucoma in half. The researchers say their study highlights the need for ophthalmologists to add prevention to their glaucoma arsenal. The study will be presented this week at the AAO 2022, the 126e annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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 suffer from glaucoma. It is estimated that nearly 80 million people suffer from glaucoma worldwide, 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 assessed data from nearly 20,000 people. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their healthy habits and diet every two years. They found that people who consumed large amounts of vitamins A, C and E, either in supplement form or through food, were 47% less likely to develop glaucoma.

Surprisingly, the vitamins only offered protection when all three were taken together. Lead researcher Alejandro Fernandez-Montero, MD, PhD, suspects that the vitamins may have a synergistic effect when consumed together.

“With my colleague Dr. Moreno-Montañés, we have done several studies in the past on how leading healthy lifestyles, eating a Mediterranean diet, smoking or exercising is linked to glaucoma, and I hope that these new vitamin findings will inspire more thinking about prevention,” said Dr. Fernandez-Montero. “I believe it is important for ophthalmologists to focus on preventive work as much as they do on progress of treatments.

Dr. Fernandez-Montero notes that more studies are needed to confirm these results.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of ophthalmologists and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 physicians, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards in ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and ensure the delivery of the highest quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted eye health information. For more information, visit aao.org.

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