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Clinical Trials
November 8, 2010

Age-Related Cataract in a Randomized Trial of Vitamins E and C in Men

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Preventive Medicine (Drs Christen, Glynn, Sesso, Kurth, Bubes, Buring, Manson, and Gaziano and Ms MacFadyen), Aging (Drs Sesso, Kurth, Buring, and Gaziano), and Cardiovascular Disease (Dr Gaziano), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School; VA Boston Healthcare System (Dr Gaziano); Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School (Dr Buring); and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Sesso, Kurth, Buring, and Manson), Boston, Massachusetts.



Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128(11):1397-1405. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.266

Objective  To test whether supplementation with alternate-day vitamin E or daily vitamin C affects the incidence of age-related cataract in a large cohort of men.

Methods  In a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial, 11 545 apparently healthy US male physicians 50 years or older without a diagnosis of cataract at baseline were randomly assigned to receive 400 IU of vitamin E or placebo on alternate days and 500 mg of vitamin C or placebo daily.

Main Outcome Measure  Incident cataract responsible for a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity to 20/30 or worse based on self-report confirmed by medical record review.

Application to Clinical Practice  Long-term use of vitamin E and C supplements has no appreciable effect on cataract.

Results  After 8 years of treatment and follow-up, 1174 incident cataracts were confirmed. There were 579 cataracts in the vitamin E–treated group and 595 in the vitamin E placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.88-1.11). For vitamin C, there were 593 cataracts in the treated group and 581 in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-1.14).

Conclusion  Long-term alternate-day use of 400 IU of vitamin E and daily use of 500 mg of vitamin C had no notable beneficial or harmful effect on the risk of cataract.

Trial Registration  clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00270647

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