What Can You Do to Help Prevent Cataracts?

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Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola * Fact Checked July 26, 2023

Story at a Glance

Cataracts is an eye condition that causes your vision to blur due to a buildup of proteins on the lens of your eye. Left untreated, cataracts can result in progressive loss of vision and, ultimately, blindness.

The most common treatment for cataracts is surgery, but it’s not without risks. In 42% of cases, cataract surgery results in dry eyes, and in 20% of cases, it leaves the patient with a droopy eyelid.

Your eyes are significantly affected by blood sugar. Chronically high blood sugar from poor nutrition and lack of exercise can trigger long-term damage to your body and make you more prone to eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.

Antioxidants found in leafy greens and colourful berries and vegetables can help prevent and/or treat cataracts. Key nutrients include carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and vitamin C.

Other natural remedies for cataracts include N-acetylcarnosine (NAC) drops and N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) drops.

The #1 Best Way to Prevent Cataracts

Dr Eric Berg DC

In the video above, Dr Eric Berg, a chiropractor and health educator, reviews what he believes are some of the best natural alternatives to prevent and/or treat cataracts

Risk factors for cataracts include heavy alcohol use, smoking, older age, diabetes, toxic substances, certain medications, and trauma to the eye.

Signs and symptoms that cataracts are forming include:

    • Blurry, cloudy or foggy vision
    • Changes in colour perception
    • Difficulty driving at night due to glare from lights
    • Sensitivity to sunlight
    • Near sightedness
    • Double vision
    • Glasses and contacts no longer seem to improve your vision

Cataract Surgery Is Not Risk-Free

The most common treatment for cataracts is surgery, but as noted by Berg, it’s not without risks. In 42% of cases, cataract surgery results in dry eyes, and in 20% of cases, it leaves the patient with a droopy eyelid. Other potential side effects include floaters, retinal detachment, eye infection, glaucoma, further vision loss and secondary cataracts.

Like Berg, I would strongly encourage trying one or more natural remedies before resorting to surgery. He points out that scientific evidence showing the efficacy of natural remedies are typically scant, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. The reason for this lack of scientific evidence is because few are willing to invest the funds required to study a compound that will never turn a profit.

You cannot patent foods or natural nutrients, for example, and supplements don’t hold a candle with respect to profitability compared to drugs. You cannot charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for a bottle of supplements. On the other hand, the risk you take by trying a natural remedy is nearly non-existent.

Adding more nutrients to your diet is not going to hurt you. At worst, you won’t see a benefit. Keep in mind that when we’re talking about food and even supplements, it’ll typically take several weeks or months before effects become noticeable, so stay with it long enough to make a difference.

Your Eyes Are Affected by Blood Sugar

As explained by Berg, your eyes are significantly affected by blood sugar. Chronically high blood sugar from poor nutrition and lack of exercise can trigger long-term damage to your body and make you more prone to eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.

Berg explains:

“When your blood sugar is high, it creates a lot of oxidative stress in different tissues, including the eyes. Our bodies produce [endogenous] antioxidants to protect against this oxidation and free radical damage. But certain things, like age and diet, can cause our bodies to make fewer antioxidants. However, plants also make potent antioxidants that we can take advantage of to help counter the effects of oxidative stress. The two categories that we’re focusing on today are carotenoids and anthocyanins.”

Carotenoids and Anthocyanins Support Eye Health

Carotenoids and anthocyanins are natural pigments found in fruits, berries, and vegetables. Foods high in carotenoids include yellow, orange, red and purple fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised egg yolks and grass-fed meats.

Key carotenoids known for their protective effects on eye health include beta-carotene (a precursor for vitamin A), lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin. I’ll review some of the benefits and mechanisms of action of lutein and astaxanthin further below.

“Antioxidants found in leafy greens and colourful berries and vegetables can help prevent and/or treat cataracts. Key nutrients include carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and vitamin C.”

Foods high in anthocyanins are red, purple, and blue, such as bilberries, blueberries, blackberries, chokeberries, black currant and red cabbage (especially red cabbage, sprouts), just to name a few. Berg’s homemade cataract remedy is a once daily shake consisting of:

1 cup red, purple, or blueberries of your choice
1 cup kefir (grass-fed, whole milk, unsweetened)

Kefir contains calcium and probiotics, both of which are thought to be protective against cataracts. Mix the two ingredients in a blender and either consume with a spoon or add a small amount of water to make it easier to drink. Also, consume a diet that is low in fructose, sucrose, and other sugars, including lactose from milk, to prevent chronic elevations in blood sugar.

Antioxidant Eye Drops for Cataracts

Other natural remedies for cataracts mentioned by Berg include N-acetyl carnosine (NAC) drops. This should not be confused with N-acetylcycsteine, which is also known as NAC. N-acetyl carnosine has been shown to penetrate your cornea into the lens of your eye, where the cataract is located.

There, the NAC is metabolized into L-carnosine, which has an antioxidant effect on the cataract-affected lens. According to a systematic review by the Cochrane Library, “NACeye drops may reverse or even prevent progression of cataract, thereby improving vision and quality of life.”

A 2017 study also found that N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) drops were effective in reversing cataracts, while a 2022 study concluded oxysterol, an oxygenated cholesterol derivative, effectively reversed cataracts in mice.

As reported by Medical News Today: “The researchers used oxysterol to attempt to alter the levels of alpha-crystallin B or alpha-crystallin A proteins present in the lenses of 26 mice. These proteins often cause cataracts to develop in aging. The study showed that oxysterol improved lens opacity 61% of the time. This is a promising sign that oxysterol may be an effective, nonsurgical treatment for cataracts.”

Lutein Protects Against Eye Diseases

As mentioned earlier, lutein is a carotenoid that is really important for eye health and helps to protect against not only cataracts but also glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the No. 1 cause of blindness in the elderly.

Lutein concentrates in your macula, which is the part of your retina responsible for central vision. Along with zeaxanthin and mesa-zeaxanthin (a metabolite of lutein), these three carotenoids form the retinal macular pigment, which not only is responsible for optimizing your visual performance but also serves as a biomarker for the risk of macular diseases.

Filter out blue light from electronic devices.

Lutein is also found in the lens, where it helps protect against cataracts and other age-related eye diseases. Among carotenoids, lutein is the most efficient at filtering out blue light — the type that comes from cell phones, computers, tablets, and LED lights. Blue light induces oxidative stress in your eyes, which increases the risk of cataracts and macular diseases. Lutein, however, acts as a shield against it.

Your body cannot make lutein, so you must get it from your diet. Following are 10 foods that are particularly rich sources of lutein.

 

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Carrots
  • Egg yolks
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet corn
  • Red and yellow peppers
  • Raspberries
  • Avocados
  • Cherries
  • Paprika

To read the full article with references click here
Mecurla Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola * Fact Checked July 26, 2023

 

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