Green tea antioxidants may reduce risk of developing cataracts
Cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye, is one of the primary causes of blindness in the world.
Approximately half of all Americans over age 65 have cataracts (CDC).
While sunlight, smoking, diabetes, and steroid use can contribute to early development of cataracts, most cataracts are associated with aging.
Over the last decade, researchers have begun to study the effects of black tea, green tea, and EGCG from green tea extract on preventing the development of cataracts in the lens of the eye.
Antioxidants fight free radical damage
The cloudy vision from cataract lens opacity is associated with oxidative stress when free radicals (singlet oxygen molecules) damage cells including the retina and lens of the eye.
Much cataract research has concentrated on the protective effect of antioxidants like vitamin E, and special antioxidant chemicals from tea and EGCG (green tea) to stop the free radical damage.
Ultraviolet light frequencies also create free radicals in the lens of the eye.
Is caffeine beneficial for the eyes?
One study found that caffeine prevented many chemical reactions to UV light that damaged the eye.
This may explain why both high antioxidant green tea and EGCG, and black tea with higher caffeine levels have shown protective effects.
Diabetes is expected to reach epidemic proportions in the world within a few decades.
Along with life-threatening damage, diabetes also can increase the risk of permanent damage to the eyes, including speeding up cataract formation.
In industrialized countries, loss of vision due to cataracts can usually be restored with cataract surgery.
In other areas, encouraging inexpensive antioxidant nutrients like daily tea and EGCG green tea may reduce the burden of cataract vision loss on the communities.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on October 1, 2012
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