More than half of all Americans over 50 have some form of cataracts, and nearly everyone over the age of 70 has them. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss. They are opaque, or blurry, spots on the eye lens. They don’t improve and they don’t go away. Depending on the severity of the cataract, vision loss can be significant.
Surgical procedures are available for repairing or replacing the lens, but the best medicine for cataracts is preventing them, or at least minimizing their severity. Diet and lifestyle treatments can help alleviate this problem.
What Causes Cataracts?
A cataract forms when proteins that form the lens of the eyeball begin to deteriorate. When this happens, a portion of the lens becomes opaque and hinders vision. Causes of lens protein deterioration include:
- Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to develop cataracts. These people should take precautionary measures to maintain eye health.
- Age: Deterioration from age is a common cause of cataracts. Again, this can be minimized by certain dietary influences, such as antioxidants and immune system support.
- Radiation: Ultraviolet radiation, usually from sun exposure, (and other forms of radiation) are a suspected cause of cataracts and other sightrelated problems.
- Hormonal imbalance: imbalances caused by steroids, diabetes, and certain prescription drugs may play a part in causing cataracts.
Ten years of vitamin C intake of 500 mg a day before the age of 60 helps reduce cataracts by 57%. Antioxidants such as Pycnogenol (pine bark extract) and betacarotene also can be of help. Keep your eyes washed with carbonactivated water by spraying it into your eyes every morning. Don’t worry about the overspray on your face: All it will do is preserve your skin and slow down wrinkle formation. Also, drink plenty of water for overall body hydration.
Don’t forget to fill up your plate with luteinrich vegetables: carrots, corn, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard, mustard greens, red peppers, dill, parsley, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes, as well as red, blue, and purple fruits. Lutein and its associated carotenoid zeaxanthin help protect delicate eye tissues from free radical damage. In fact, according to a Harvardbased study, women with diets high in lutein reduce their risk of developing cataracts by 22%; men reduce their risk by 19%.
Besides lutein, other antioxidants are helpful for your eyes and overall health: bilberry, grape seed extract, Pycnogenol (pine bark extract), olive leaf extract, and dark red and purple fruits.
Exercise your eyes. Spend five minutes a day rolling your eyes in wide circles or focusing between near and far objects. Also, rest your eyes during the day for a couple of minutes—especially if you work in front of a computer or perform other tasks that create eye strain. Simply close your eyes for two or three minutes to give them a rest.