About 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye) and this number is expected to double in the next 15-20 years. According to a new study* done by the University of Oxford in England, researchers found that vegetarians and vegans are 30% to 40% less likely to develop cataracts than people who eat a lot of meat. Researchers studied data on more than 27,000 people, all over age 40. The study’s participants filled out dietary surveys between 1993 and 1999. By 2009, approximately 1,500 had developed cataracts. The participants were divided into groups according to the amount of meat they ate each day:
Compared with those who ate the most meat, the risks for developing cataracts were lower for all other groups. Mid-range meat eaters had a decreased cataract risk of 4%, low-range 15%, fish eaters 21%, vegetarians 30% and vegans 40%. Researchers found that the progressive decrease in cataract risk was seen for both men and women.
Other risks for cataract development include smoking, diabetes and exposure to bright light.