Cataracts – what’s new?

cataract surgeonCataracts can not only be prevented, but can even be reversed through nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle changes. Read what folks who’ve tried these methods say about products that help cataracts and learn about products to support lens health.

Cataracts was once considered an inevitability for seniors. In the United States, only 10% of 55-year-olds have experienced cataracts. However, half of 75-year-olds have developed cataracts and at age 85, the number is 70%.1

There’s been quite a bit of interesting new research in the last several years pointing to the alternatives and effects of different modes of living that have an impact.

2018 – A controlled study of 97 cataracts patients used food frequency questionnaires.2 The subjects were matched against 198 controls. Those who ate the most “bad” fats had a significantly higher risk of developing cataracts. Bad fats include trans fats, monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, etc. Conversely, those who ate the most omega-3 fatty acids had a much lower risk of cataracts. Also, those with a high intake of antioxidants (vitamins A and C) showed a 79% lower risk of developing cataracts.

2017 – A chemical analysis of both cataract and clear lenses found that cataract lenses had much less glutathione.3 Glutathione is a crucial antioxidant that the body manufactures from other nutrients.

2015 – A meta-analysis found that high Vitamin E levels were associated with a lowered risk of age-related cataracts.4 The studies included vitamin E in the blood, diet, and supplements.

2014 – A meta-analysis looked at studies measuring the amounts of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in the blood. Detailed analysis revealed a significantly higher risk of cataracts in people with low blood levels of these antioxidants.5

2014 – Even young adults could increase their risk of cataracts by smoking. A controlled study of 60 chronic young smokers looked at lens thickness. It found that their lenses were at a higher risk of developing cataracts.6

2013 – Cineraria maritima extract appeared to provide a defense against cataracts in an animal study. The cineraria was believed to minimize the generation of free radicals. 7

2008 – An observational 10-year study of more than 35,000 middle-aged U.S. women observed the women’s use of dietary supplements and occurrence of cataracts – further verifying that lutein, zeaxanthin and Vitamin E were significantly helpful.8

2007 – Dietary linolenic acid (think flaxseed oil, fish oil) intake is positively associated with five-year change in eye lens nuclear density (think cataracts!).

2006 – Two studies show significant reductions in cataracts for those in the highest percentage of vitamin C & bioflavonoids intake.

Causes?

  • Free radicals are responsible for most cataracts. They are natural byproducts of metabolism. These highly reactive chemicals cause oxidation, which in turn causes aging. As the lens of the eye ages, it hardens and loses its ability to focus. This process is similar to hardening of the arteries, and is often associated with changes in the joints.
  • Chronic physical stress such as dental problems, physical injury to the vertebrae or neck, or any stress that reduces eye movement and increases muscle tension.
  • Food Allergies or sensitivities, particularly involving dairy products, wheat and/or soy can congest the sinuses, impairing lymphatic and venous drainage, resulting in decreased nutrition to the eyes.
  • Toxins, pharmaceutical drug side effects, such as steroid drugs, or photosensitizing drugs such as gout medications, cholesterol lowering drugs, antibiotics and diuretics.
  • Smoking – the risk in ex-smokers is 50 percent higher compared to non smokers. Each cigarette also robs the body of 25 mg of vitamin C. Smokers have an increase in lipids (both fat and cholesterol) which increase the risk of severe cardiovascular disease. These factors produce narrowing of the retina blood vessels that carry valuable nutrients to the eye.
  • Diabetes and other diseases that affect multiple areas of the body such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Diabetics develop cataracts at an earlier age than non- diabetics. An accumulation of sorbitol and fructose in the lens can induce osmotic swelling of the lens, which will lead to the development of a cataract.
  • Poor nutrition and digestion. Nutritional deficiencies, such as in poor areas of Third World countries, can cause cataracts to develop early and progress faster. In every part of the world, people with poor digestion and chronic bowel problems have a fourfold higher incidence of cataracts.
  • Heredity
  • Aging of the Eyes – hardening of the lens occurs as we age.
  • Sunlight – invisible ultraviolet light (UV light) which is one of the light frequencies of sunlight promotes free-radical damage to the lens. The effects of UV light are cumulative over time.
  • Alcoholic Consumption – High intake of alcohol more than doubles the risk of developing cataracts. More than 7 drinks per week will increase the risk, while moderate use does not seem to increase the risk.
  • Too much Vitamin B2 aggravates – Those with Cataracts should not use supplemental Vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 is a photosensitizing substance – experimental studies have shown that when Vitamin B2 is exposed to Visible Light, Cataracts can occur (or be exacerbated) as a result of the generation of Free Radicals from the interaction of Visible Light, Oxygen and Vitamin B2. This indicates that in persons afflicted with Cataracts, excessive Vitamin B2 is more harmful than beneficial. .

 

  1. National Eye Institute. Cataracts. Retrieved Jan 7, 2018 from https://nei.nih.gov/eyedata/cataract.
  2. Sedaghat, F., Ghanavati, M., Nezhad, Hajian, P., Hajishirazi, S., Ehteshami, M., et al. (2017). Nutrient patterns and risk of cataract: a case-control study. Int J Ophthalmol, Apr 18;10(4):586–592.
  3. Mynampati, B.K., Ghosh, S., Muthukumarappa, T, Ram, J. (2017). Evaluation of antioxidants and argpyrimidine in normal and cataractous lenses in north Indian population. Int J Ophthalmol, 10(7): 1094–1100.
  4. Zhang, Y., Jiang, W., Xie, W., Wu, W., Zhang, D. (2015). Vitamin E and risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr, Oct;18(15):2804-14.
  5. Liu, X.H., Yu, R.B., Liu, R., Hao, Z.X., Han, C.C., et al. (2014). Association between lutein and zeaxanthin status and the risk of cataract: a meta-analysis. Nutrients, Jan 22;6(1):452-65.
  6. Kar, T., Ayata, A., Aksoy, Y., Kaya, A., Unal, M. (2014). The effect of chronic smoking on lens density in young adults. Eur J Ophthalmology, Sep-Oct;24(5):682-7.
  7. Anitha, T.S., Muralidharan, A.R., Annadurai, T., Jesudasan, C.A., Thomas, P.A., et al. (2013). Putative free radical-scavenging activity of an extract of Cineraria maritima in preventing selenite-induced cataractogenesis in Wistar rat pups. Mol Vis, Dec 16;19:2551-60.
  8. Archives of Ophthalmology (Arch. Ophthalmol. 2008;126:102-9) from the Women’s Health Study.