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Diet, Meds and Smoking Linked to Eye Disease Risks
Date:6/14/2010

Good nutrition staved off cataracts; some drugs, smoking increased vision problems, studies found

MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- A healthy diet helps guard against cataracts, while certain medications raise the risks of this common cause of vision loss, two new studies suggest.

And a third study finds that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, another disease that robs people of their sight.

The first study found that women who eat foods that contain high levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals may be less likely to develop nuclear cataract, which is the most common type of age-related cataract in the United States.

The study is published in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The researchers looked at 1,808 women in Iowa, Oregon and Wisconsin who took part in a study about age-related eye disease. Overall, 736 (41 percent) of the women had either nuclear cataracts evident from lens photographs or reported having undergone cataract extraction.

"Results from this study indicate that healthy diets, which reflect adherence to the U.S. dietary guidelines . . . are more strongly related to the lower occurrence of nuclear cataracts than any other modifiable risk factor or protective factor studied in this sample of women," Julie A. Mares, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues said in a news release from the journal.

The second study found that medications that increase sensitivity to the sun -- including antidepressants, diuretics, antibiotics and the pain reliever naproxen sodium (commonly sold over-the-counter as Aleve) -- increase the risk of age-related cataract.

Researchers followed-up with 4,926 participants over a 15-year period and concluded that an interaction between sun-sensitizing medications and sunlight (ultraviolet-B) exposure was associated with the development of cortical cataract.


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