The easiest way to avoid cataract surgery

It seems like only yesterday all the major media outlets declared that the multivitamin was dead.

Well, I’ve got some important news for all those naysayers…New research shows that taking a simple multivitamin every day can significantly lower your risk of developing cataracts.

Cararacts are the number one cause of blindness in the world. (And, as a side note, having diabetes nearly doubles your risk of the condition.)

Once that telltale clouded film develops over your eyes, the only real cure is surgery. So prevention is key. And according to a recent study, a daily multivitamin could play a major role in the effort.

This trial followed 15,000 older men for over a decade. And researchers found that taking a daily multivitamin supplement lowered cataract risk by roughly 9 percent.

The risk was even lower in the case of nuclear cataracts. (The most common type of age-related cataract.) Multivitamins lowered the risk of this type of cataract by 13 percent.

According to the researchers, these numbers represent a “small yet significant” decrease in risk. But I’d personally like to add a little extra emphasis to the “significant” part of that statement.

I mean, could you imagine if a prescription drug decreased cataract risk by a “small yet significant” 9 percent?  The execs over at Big Pharma would be in heaven. They’d have enough extra cash to pad their pockets, with plenty left over for their private jet fuel, too.

So we’re talking about a pretty big benefit, if you ask me. And here’s the best part: The supplements in this trial featured dosages in line with the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). In other words, ridiculously low doses.

Can you imagine the results researchers would see (pun intended) if they had used optimal doses? (Oh, if only…)

As my grandfather used to say, put that in your pipe and smoke it. (At least, that’s what I think he was saying. He was speaking Italian. For all I know, his actual choice of words was much more colorful.)

But the bottom line in any language is the same. Multivitamins aren’t worthless. They ward off premature death and disease. (LINK TO 10/29/2012.) And, as this latest study shows, they can help save your eyesight too.

So why isn’t there a giant public health policy push for multivitamin use? Rather than a huge push to stop consumers from taking nutritional supplements?

Mark my words. Years from now, people will be shaking their heads in disbelief that we allowed so many public health problems to persist. All because the “powers that be” refused to accept that vitamins are good for you.

Thankfully, though, a lot of opthalmologists have seen the light. And, like me, they routinely recommend antioxidants to their patients with eye diseases. I’ve been prescribing daily doses of lutein, zeaxanthin and astazanthin, and bilberry for eye health my entire career.

According to my patients, these compounds really work. And according to this study, so does a daily multivitamin.

If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest incorporating a good quality multivitamin into your daily regimen. If it saves you from surgery or, worse—blindness—I’d say it’s well worth it.



“Effects of multivitamin supplement on cataract and age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial of male physicians.” Ophthalmology. 2014 Feb;121(2):525-34.