Development of cataracts is not uncommon with advancing age. A cataract is a small cloudy area forming in the light-focusing lens of the eye, causing images to be blurry. Crystal clear for most of our lives, the proteins of the lens can begin to “denature,” losing their proper shape and clumping together abnormally, forming a small cataract. If it stopped there, it wouldn’t be so bad, but the proteins continue to do this progressively over time. When the blurring of vision interferes with daily life, the ultimate solution for cataracts is a simple surgery that installs a synthetic yet highly functional new lens.
However, cataracts should not be viewed as inevitable! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and there are things everyone can do to prevent cataracts. Keeping to a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats is an important start in the prevention of many, many ailments, cataracts included. Vitamin A as in carrots and other colorful vegetables is essential for eye health in general. It and other antioxidant vitamins like C and E soak up so-called “free radicals” that can oxidize proteins – those of the lens included – and change their shape. Such injured proteins in our cells are ideally removed and replaced with new ones, but this apparently becomes less efficient with age. So prevention of such injury with your “ACE” team becomes very important. Strong dietary antioxidants not obvious by their color include garlic, onions and green tea.
There are also known risk factors for cataracts, and avoiding these is an obvious way to reduce your chances of ever having to experience them. Number one on the list is a common culprit, smoking tobacco. It becomes an even more powerful predictor of cataract likelihood when also present with excess weight or diabetes. Heavy diabetics who smoke may not realize it or wish it, but they could be said to be “asking” for cataracts. Some will be lucky and escape this fate, but why should one take the risk? Quitting cigarettes is hard, but there are now medical ways to lessen the craving and support groups to help.
Our eyes are also very sensitive to radiation, including the powerful ultraviolet (UV) light rays present in normal sunlight. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses there becomes an important and easy way to lower one’s risk of cataracts later in life. Of course this extends to other forms of sun protection such as wearing a brimmed hat in bright sunlight. However don’t avoid the outdoors – staying active to keep one’s weight at a health level also lowers cataract risk. Avoiding sugary drinks will lower your risk of diabetes and because of that your risk of cataracts.
Once a cataract begins, doctors are divided on the ability to slow its progression, even with medications. However Indian doctors have developed an herbal mixture called Diabecon based on the centuries-old Ayurvedic medical practices ofIndia. It is primarily aimed at prevention and some level of treatment of diabetes and, as just noted, diabetes raises the risk of cataracts. However the Indian doctors also directly tested the mixture of compounds in its ability to inhibit cataract formation in animal eyes under laboratory conditions known to rapidly cause it – namely, high sugar levels. They saw a great reduction in lens clouding and also inhibition of an enzyme implicated in deleterious sugar changes involved in cataract formation.
The studies in Indiashowed these effects were mediated by one ingredient in the Diabecon mixture, an extract of Gymnema sylvestre, commonly known as cowplant. Others have shown that the dietary compound rutin can possibly slow the onset and progression of cataracts. Rutin is found in the rinds of citrus fruit, but also more pleasantly edible as buckwheat, asparagus and cranberries. It’s really wonderful that powerful preventatives of cataracts and other ailments happen to exist in delicious foods that we can eat and benefit from.
DoctorQA.com is a portal designed to aid sufferers of varicose veins and cataracts. Visitors will be able to find numerous informational articles and videos as well as find local specialists to consult.