Archive for the ‘Cataracts’ Category

Update on ALA & Eyesight

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

A study came out earlier this year (thanks, Tom!) shedding some light on the issue of the short-chain omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and eye damage. Previous research from the Nurse’s Health Study had linked ALA intake to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. My suspicion is that this was due to confounding, but until more is known, I have been discouraging vegans from taking large amounts of ALA.

This new study from France (1) measured ALA levels in the blood, rather than from the diet, and found that higher blood levels of ALA were associated with a reduced risk of late-AMD.

This gives me quite a bit of confidence that the association of ALA with AMD in the Nurse’s Health Study was probably due to confounding. However, we are not out of the woods on yet on AMD and definitely not on cataracts. I hope we know more soon.

You can read more details in the section Eyesight of the article, Omega-3 Fatty Acid Recommendations for Vegetarians.


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1. Merle BM, Delyfer MN, Korobelnik JF, Rougier MB, Malet F, FĂ©art C, Le Goff M, Peuchant E, Letenneur L, Dartigues JF, Colin J, Barberger-Gateau P, Delcourt C. High concentrations of plasma n3 fatty acids are associated with decreased risk for late age-related macular degeneration. J Nutr. 2013 Apr;143(4):505-11. | link

Cataracts: Media Proves Me Wrong

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

On March 28, I reported that the media had failed to pick up the story about a study associating a vegan diet with a lower risk of cataracts.

It took awhile, but a story surfaced on April 8, Vegetarian diet linked to lower cataract risk by Leigh Krietsch Boerner for Reuters.

Of course, they interview Dr. Jack Dodick, who was not part of the study, and who proceeds to discount the findings with a final comment of, “The moral of the story is, live life in moderation[.] A healthy active lifestyle with exercise might decrease the risk of cataracts.”

While one epidemiological study cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vegan diet leads to less cataracts than a meat-eating diet, it was pretty funny how they took a study showing vegans had lower cataracts and turned it into the idea that moderation and exercise might reduce cataracts.

Vegan Diet Associated with Lower Risk of Cataracts

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I love to hear good news about my good habits!

It’s funny – when bad news comes out about vegan diets, news articles are quickly written and disseminated, and I get to spend the day fielding emails about them. But where is the media when good news comes out about the vegan diet? I couldn’t find anything in the mainstream media.

That means I am probably the first to let you know about some good news just reported from EPIC-Oxford – Vegans were found to have a statistically significant, 40% reduced risk of cataracts.

The study was limited to those in EPIC-Oxford who were 40 years or older at recruitment. More details can be found in Disease Rates of Vegetarians and Vegans and in the abstract linked to below.


Appleby PN, Allen NE, Key TJ. Diet, vegetarianism, and cataract risk. Am J
Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print] (Link)