Author(s): Mares-Perlman JA, Brady WE, Klein BE,Klein R, Palta M, Bowen P, Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M. Serum carotenoids and tocopherols and severity of nuclear and cortical opacities. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1995 Feb;36(2):276-88.
PURPOSE To determine whether higher levels of individual carotenoids and tocopherols in the serum are related to less severe nuclear and cortical opacities within the general population.
METHODS Levels of individual carotenoids and tocopherols in the serum were determined in 400 randomly selected persons aged 50 to 84 years participating in the Nutritional Factors in Eye Disease Study of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Severity of nuclear and cortical opacities was assessed from lens slit lamp and retroillumination photographs taken at the same time. Relationships between serum levels of nutrients and prevalence of these opacities were evaluated using logistic regression analysis accounting for known possible confounders.
RESULTS Higher levels of individual or total carotenoids or alpha-tocopherol in the serum were not associated with less severe nuclear or cortical opacities overall. However, associations differed between men and women and within specific population subgroups. A significant trend for lower odds for either type of opacity with increasing levels of beta-carotene in the serum was observed in men. For nuclear sclerosis, this protective association with beta-carotene was found in younger but not older men. Higher levels of three other carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein) in serum were significantly related to lower odds for nuclear sclerosis only in men who smoked. In contrast to these inverse associations observed in some subgroups, higher levels of some carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol often were directly associated with nuclear sclerosis, particularly in women.
CONCLUSIONS Higher levels of carotenoids and tocopherols are not consistently associated with less severe opacities in the general population.