Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world today, while age-related macular degeneration is responsible for the majority of new cases of visual impairment in the Western world. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting a role for antioxidant therapy to prevent the progression of these conditions. A 4-year prospective, randomised, controlled trial of an antioxidant versus placebo in a population of healthy volunteers aged 55-80 years at enrolment is described. This paper outlines the primary aims of the Vitamin E, Cataract and Age-related Macular Degeneration (VECAT) Study, the methodology, and the recruitment rates. Additional data on the toxicity and non-ocular effects of vitamin E will also be collected. Standardised clinical grading of macular and lens features, and comparison of serial macular photographs and digital lens photographs will form the basis for assessment of primary study outcomes. Information collected in this study will assist in the assessment of the potential value of antioxidants in preventing the enormous burden imposed on developed communities by age-related eye disease. In addition, important data on prevalence and progression rates of cataract and macular degeneration will be collected.