Is it possible to prevent cataracts, or even reverse cataracts? Can you put off cataracts surgery? Cataracts are one of the most common eye diseases in seniors. More and more people have a special “glint” in their eye when the light hits the lens just right. What is the value of preventing cataracts and other eye diseases?
What Are Cataracts
A cataract is a cloudy spot on the eye’s lens due to changes in the protein structure. The cataract gets worse over time, obstructing vision. The worsening can be gradual over many years. In some cases, cataracts form quite quickly, such as for diabetes patients. At first, general blurriness may make it difficult to read in low light or read street signs. Colors appear duller. Impaired depth perception may lead to falls. The eyes become more sensitive to glare. A person with cataracts may not notice the changes for some time. An eye doctor, however, can see cataracts during an eye exam.
What Causes Cataracts
While a few children have cataracts, most cases occur in seniors. Older individuals eventually use up a chemical that is finite in the body. On the chemical level, crystallins help the lens stay transparent. One of these crystallins acts as “chaperones” to prevent clumping. These chaperone proteins eventually run out. Thus, a cataract forms.1
Free radical damage is also implicated in damage to the lens. Oxidization can damage precious crystallins, bringing on cataracts sooner.
One theory of cataracts is that the body is trying to protect the retina from sun damage. Like natural sunglasses, cataracts allow less UV and blue light into the eyes. However, Westerners have ready access to effective sunglasses. Also, we want to have acute vision and continue to drive well into our senior years.
Who Gets Cataracts? What Are Your Chances?
By age 80, 50% of American will have developed cataracts. Age-related cataracts can start in middle-age but may not need treatment until years later. The increased risk is associated with:
- diabetes (high blood sugar)
- excessive sun, tanning, and sunlamp exposure
- steroid medication if used long-term
- frequent head x-rays
- family history
- an eye disease like uveitis (long-term), retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, or retinal detachment.
What Happens Without Treatment
Untreated cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Cloudy-eyed seniors navigating the world with a companion or stick is a common sight in third-world counties. 2
- Half of the needlessly blind people worldwide have cataracts.
- 18 million blind cataracts patients await surgery.
- Cataracts surgery stands out as one of the most cost-effective public health solutions.
As cataracts progress, daily tasks such as driving, reading, and navigating become more difficult. Eventually, the individual is dependent on others and may need to move to a nursing facility prematurely. Quality of life is significantly reduced.
What Are the Conventional Treatments?
The conventional treatment for cataracts is the surgical replacement of the lens. Under local anesthetic, the eye surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. At the same time, the doctor can often correct other vision issues such as astigmatism, near-sightedness, and far-sightedness. The more advanced intraocular lenses can even correct presbyopia (blurry close-up vision, common after age 40). Glasses or contacts may no longer be necessary after this surgery.
The doctor often waits for the cataract to “ripen.” This means the lens needs to have enough damage to make the surgery worthwhile. A cataract may be detected, but surgery can be put off for several years or more. The eye doctor often recommends cataract surgery after he or she cannot refract the patient’s vision 20/40 or better due to the cataract.
Surgery is typically done on one eye at a time to make recovery more comfortable. The entire procedure can be done as an out-patient. The actual surgery time is usually about 10 minutes. Plan on taking a nap at home afterward. Wear an eye shield as directed. Your vision should become clear within hours, days, or a couple of weeks.
This surgery is one of the safest. Out of 3 million surgeries in the US each year, 98% have no side-effects.3 Complications may include eye inflammation, posterior capsule opacity, sensitivity to light, flashes of light, macular edema, droopy eyelid, and elevated pressure in the eye. Most complications can be treated with an additional procedure.
Reasons to Delay Cataract Surgery
Sometimes individuals with cataracts want to avoid or delay surgery. They may be waiting until other conditions have been treated or have settled down. Sometimes their medication makes them a poor surgical candidate. Some are near end-of-life, making the surgery an unnecessary stressor — but they want to enjoy their final days with clearer vision. Perhaps they are saving up the insurance co-pay or waiting for the right insurance to come into effect. Eye diseases and other diseases such as heart issues or a history of retinal bleeding may make them a poor surgical candidate. And sometimes, the very nominal risks associated with the surgery may be amplified by fear.
How to Support Cataracts Naturally
For a century, the homeopathic formula called “cineraria” has been popular in India, South America, and Europe. Cineraria has been listed in the Ophthalmology Physician’s Desk Reference herbal section for cataracts for over 38 years. This highly diluted eye drop can clear and dissolve obstructing fibrils in the lens. Cineraria Maritima drops are applied 2 to 3 times per day. They work best in the early stages of cataract formation, though may help moderate stages as well. Improvement is often visible to an eye doctor in 6 to 9 months. Natural Eye Care carries a Cineraria formula that includes six additional homeopathic ingredients.
In addition to the drops, a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial. The Mediterranean Diet contains all the recommended nutrients and fiber needed. Even moderate, regular regular exercise helps the entire system, including reducing cataract risk4.
Prevent Cataracts and Other Eye Diseases
Cataracts are one of many age-related eye diseases. At the heart of most of these diseases is poor nutrition. In a rich country like the US, you would expect to find excellent nutrition. On the contrary, cheap carbohydrates, fats, and sugars dominate. A healthy diet is elusive in a grocery store that is 90% packaged and preserved foods.
To help prevent cataracts and many other eye diseases, buy most of your groceries from the produce aisle. Fresh juices and smoothies are shortcuts to getting several servings of fruits and vegetables without chewing. Our modified Vision Diet provides easy guidelines for a healthy diet. Discover recipes for generous salads and vegetable dishes. Natural Eye Care offers a cookbook of vision-supporting recipes.
Proper nutrition is important throughout life. Most senior eye disease happens when a lifetime of nominal nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, and sun exposure catch up with them. Digestion in seniors is less efficient than in younger people. Therefore, supplementation may be needed. See our page on supplements for good vision.
Supplements specifically aimed at lens support include Vitamins include: lutein, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, bilberry, alpha lipoic acid, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, n-acetyl-carnosine, glutathione, and zinc. Dr. Marc Grossman developed his own Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula with a broad spectrum of nutrients and Chinese herbs. See Advanced Lens Packages at www.naturaleyecare.com as well.
Can-C eye drops contain N-acetylcarnosine, a derivative of carnosine. Taking carnosine capsules was found to assist in the normal functioning of lens proteins.5 N-acetylcarnosine eye drops appeared to improve visual performance in people with cataracts.6 Using both carnosine and N-Acetylcarnosine together may be a double-whammy to protect the eyes from cataracts. Learn more about Can-C eye drops.
Cataracts may seem like normal part of the aging process and surgery inevitable. However, you can help prevent this eye disease and others with proper nutrition and exercise. Later in life, adding vision-supporting supplements can also be helpful. You can choose to slow down or even reverse cataract formation by trying cineraria drops.
Up Next: See our Cataracts Page and get a free vision consult.
- Kingsley C, Brubaker W, Markovic S. Preferential and Specific Binding of Human αB-Crystallin to a Cataract-Related Variant of γS-Crystallin. Structure. 2013. ↩
- Cureblindness.org ↩
- American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery ↩
- https://www.naturaleyecare.com/study.asp?s_num=222 ↩
- Javadi S, Yousefi R, Hosseinkhani S, et al. Protective effects of carnosine on dehydroascorbate-induced structural alteration and opacity of lens crystallins: important implications of carnosine pleiotropic functions to combat cataractogenesis. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2017;35(8):1766-84. ↩
- Babizhayev MA, Deyev AI, Yermakova VN, et al. Efficacy of N-acetylcarnosine in the treatment of cataracts. Drugs R D. 2002;3(2): 87-103. [7. Babizhayev MA, Deyev AI, Yermakova VN, et al. N-Acetylcarnosine, a natural histidine-containing dipeptide, as a potent ophthalmic drug in the treatment of human cataracts. Peptides. 2001;22(6):979-94. ↩