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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1995 Jan;35(1-2):111-29.

Prevention of cataracts by nutritional and metabolic antioxidants.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Maryland at Baltimore 21201, USA.


Among aging disabilities, the one associated with the progressive decline of vision is functionally most disadvantageous. Cataracts are one of the more common causes of such visual disability. Several predisposing factors have been identified in the genesis of this disease. While it is perhaps a multifactorial process, significant developments have taken place in recent years suggesting that oxygen radicals are involved in the development of this aging manifestation. Antioxidant enzymes, such as catalase and superoxide dismutase, have been demonstrated to protect the lens cell membrane from oxidative stress as reflected by the prevention of the Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase-dependent pump deterioration due to oxyradical-dependent oxidation of its proteins and lipids. From the nutritional point of view, antioxidants such as ascorbate and vitamin E also offer significant protection to the lens against damage due to oxidative stress. Evidence regarding the protective effect of these nutrients has been based on lens organ culture studies in the presence of active oxygen, generated photochemically as well as enzymatically. The experiment involving photochemical environs simulate the status of the eye during the photopic vision. In vivo, the effectiveness of ascorbate against cataracts has been tested in rat pups developing cataracts under the oxidative influence of sodium selenite. Certain antioxidants produced metabolically also may be useful in protecting against cataracts. Pyruvate produced in glucose metabolism seems to be an important antioxidant. The efficacy of this compound has been tested within in vitro organ culture as well as in vivo, the latter experiments being done with selenite-treated rats. There is a hope that these and other nutritional and metabolic antioxidants may one day be useful in delaying or even preventing cataract formation in human beings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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