Vitamin E, selenium have no effect on cataract risk in men

December 19, 2014

A study recently published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that long-term daily supplementation with selenium and/or vitamin E did not have a beneficial effect on cataract risk in men.

A study recently published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that long-term daily supplementation with selenium and/or vitamin E did not have a beneficial effect on cataract risk in men.

Researchers  conducted an ancillary study within the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) Eye Endpoints (SEE) Study. The SELECT was a four-group, Phase 3, randomized placebo-controlled trial of selenium, vitamin E, and a combination of selenium and vitamin E for the prevention of prostate cancer in 35,533 men, beginning in 2001. The SEE trial involved a subset of 11,267 men, beginning in 2003, excluding men with a prior diagnosis of cataract at baseline.

Nutrition’s role in eye care

Participants had a median age of 61 years, with most (64 percent) ranging in age from 55 to 64 years; 81 percent were white and 19 percent were nonwhite; 52 percent had graduated from college; 43 percent were never-smokers, 48 percent were former smokers, and nine percent were current smokers; and 62 percent had one or more alcohol drinks a month and 33 percent rarely or never drank alcohol.

Researchers randomly assigned the SEE participants to receive vitamin E (n = 2844), selenium and vitamin E (n = 2789), selenium (n = 2805), or placebo (n = 2829). Researchers then compared cataract incidence among the selenium vs. no-selenium groups and the vitamin E vs. no–vitamin E groups.

During 5.6 years of follow-up, 185 cataracts developed in the selenium groups and 204 in the no-selenium group, for a nonsignificant reduction of nine percent for the selenium groups. For cataract extractions, 99 cases occurred in the selenium groups and 120 in the no-selenium groups, for a nonsignificant reduction of 16 percent.

In addition, 197 cataracts developed in the vitamin E groups and 192 in the no–vitamin E groups. Cataract extractions occurred in 114 vitamin E cases and in 105 no–vitamin E cases, with both hazard ratios hovering around the null value of 1.0.