Does Eating Meat Increase the Incidence of Cataract Development?

Most of us are familiar with the expression, “You are what you eat.” Research has proven time and again the importance of eating a healthy diet to prevent illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. A study published by the researchers at the University of Oxford found that eating less meat and more vegetables can lower the incidence of developing cataracts.

The study examined the dietary habits of 27,670 people over 40 years of age. The participants of the study completed surveys between 1993-1999 and were then checked to see if cataracts developed between 2008 and 2009. Approximately 1,500 participants developed cataracts. The findings were then divided into groups based upon the amount of meat they consumed.

The highest rate of cataract development was found in participants who ate the highest amount of meat (3.5oz or more per day).  Incidences of cataract development decreased from one group to the next as the amount of meat consumption decreased. The lowest incidence of cataract development was found in vegetarians and vegans (30% and 40% less).

While this study does raise some additional concern for how diet affects overall health, it also raises further questions. It does not prove that eating meat causes cataracts. Vegetarians and vegans typically eat more vegetables, which have been proven to improve health and decrease the incidence of cataract development. Vegetables protect the eyes and help stave off disease. Non-meat eaters are also more likely to avoid smoking and excessive sun exposure, both of which can cause cataracts.

The bottom line is that what you eat today affects how your body ages in the future. If you want to keep your body in the healthiest state possible, it is important to consume foods that keep it strong. Cataracts can happen to anyone, regardless of diet. However, by eating less of the foods that can cause damage and more of the foods that repair, you can enjoy a longer, healthier life with clear vision.