Preventing Cataracts

Prescription Glasses

Cataracts commonly occur in the elderly and are the leading cause of blindness worldwide affecting up to 40% of people over the age of 75. The astounding fact is that cataract formation is present in all adults over the age of 30. In an eye that has no cataract, the lens is clear and light can pass through the lens on to the retina so that a clear image can be seen. The lens in an eye with cataract is clouded and the image produced is not clear.

A cataract develops when proteins aggregate in the lens of the eye with a progressive loss of transparency. This is akin to what happens to the white of an egg when it is cooked. As the protein becomes oxidised, it hardens and loses its transparency.

Whilst the exact pathway leading to the formation of cataracts still remains unknown, there are some risk factors that predispose us to cataract formation. These include age (being over 30), diabetes, smoking, alcohol, high sugar intake, high blood pressure, genetics, diets deficient in antioxidants and exposure of the eyes to excessive sunlight.

Recognising the symptoms

The points listed below may be a useful guide in recognising the symptoms of cataracts. If any of the signs below exist then I would recommend a visit to the optician or GP as soon as possible.

Images seen by people who have cataracts may be fuzzy. This is due to the partial clouding of the lens due to protein deposition and it progressively gets worse. Eventually colours may appear to be washed out and a brownish tint appears in all images.

People with cataracts may see a ring of light around images. They may not be able to see well when the sun is shining. Night driving may also become a problem because the glare of headlights may make it too difficult to see.

People with cataracts may look at a person or object and see two instead of one. This symptom does disappear as more protein deposits onto the lens.

Changes in vision are a common symptom of cataracts and often people with cataracts may need new prescription glasses more often than usual.

The eyes of people develop a visible white film over time. This film is transparent and grows over the pupil.

Preventing cataracts

Cataracts can easily be corrected by surgery. This type of surgery is safe and highly effective, however the purpose of this article is to inform you of how to prevent cataracts from developing. To prevent cataracts from forming you need to concentrate on two things: reducing the damage causing compounds, and increasing the level of antioxidants available to the eye.

Antioxidants contained in the food we eat and the supplements we take protect the body against free radical damage. Individuals with cataracts have been found to have low levels of glutathione peroxidise and superoxide dismutase. These antioxidant enzymes are manufactured by our body to protect itself from free radical damage. There is a wide agreement that diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C may significantly reduce one’s risk of cataract formation. For many people often with restricted food choices, this is not achievable on a daily basis and hence I would recommend a good food state multinutrient such as Alive Once Daily Multivitamin which has a very high antioxidant value known as the ORAC value.

It might be also prudent to take Astaxanthin With Phospholipids. As mentioned above diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C may help to protect against cataract formation. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C and approximately 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene and I would recommend its inclusion into any supplement regimen and especially for the prevention of cataracts.

Carbohydrates within our foods are converted by the enzyme alpha-amylase into sugar molecules. These sugars interact with proteins, a process called glycation, resulting in the ageing of the protein structures within our bodies including the eyes and the lens. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing have found that increasing carbohydrate intake through the diet increased the risk of developing cataracts. Those whose average intake was between 200 and 268 grams per day were two and a half times more likely to develop cataracts than those whose carbohydrate intake was between 100 and 185 grams per day. However since glycation is impossible to stop, you can ensure that your carbohydrate intake is within the limits mentioned above and you can protect against glycation using Carnosine, a thoroughly researched amino acid, takes a “sacrificial hit” and allows itself to be glycated sparing the eyes including the lens from ageing.

Eye Drops for Cataracts

Cataracts result from the clouding of the eye’s lens, which never stops growing similar to your hair and nails. However, lenses grow from the outside in meaning that the cells at the centre are the oldest cells. As mentioned above, the cells of the lens are subject to oxidation when sugars combine with proteins, a process called glycation.

There have been several studies on the use of the natural compound N-Acetylcarnosine (N-AC). One such study carried out by Dr Babizhayev and his colleagues at the Helmhotz Eye Institute in Moscow suggests that the use of a one per cent solution of N-AC applied directly to the eye helps prevent and may reverse the cross-linking of the lens proteins that lead to cloudiness and impaired vision. An Improvement in general vision was reported as earlier as one month after use.

Dr Babizhayev’s report suggests that the reversal of cloudiness starts at the periphery working its way inward. His report shows that over 40% of the subjects involved in the study showed an improvement in the transmission of light and nearly 90% reported significant improvements in glare sensitivity and clearer vision. The improvements were greater in subjects who had their cataracts for less than seven years but even those who had their cataracts for over fifteen years still reported positive benefits.

Dr Babizhayev’s exact formulated product is available as Can-C Eye Drops and if you use two drops daily, then this should last approximately 35 days.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Eyes, Shabir Daya | , , , , ,
  • jamie mcgee

    Hi shabir, I have been diagnosed with pinguecula and told all I can do is keep eyes comfortable with lubricating drops. It is actually a really distressing condition as the eyes look ugly and generally interaction focuses on the eyes. My self esteem & confidence is at a low and I now avoid going out or talking closely to people. Is there anything that could help? I would be so grateful for any advice. Thankyou.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Jamie, It is theorised that some form of inflammation leads to the abnormal raising of the conjunctiva. My recommendation would be to consider the use of curcumin capsules. Curcumin is the active group of compounds which exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties both of which will be of benefit in protecting against the further worsening of symptoms. Whilst carnosine eye drops (Can-C) are mentioned above for cataracts, there would be justification in using these because they are known to help “dissolve” occluded eye concerns. Shabir