For most people, cataracts develop slowly and don’t disrupt the vision early on. But with time and age, this will interfere with your daily life and you’ll need eyeglasses. You may need surgery down the road, generally, a safe and effective procedure. But still…the question is how to slow down cataracts? Are there any natural remedies for cataracts? Is there a natural way to cure cataract even?
If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20.5 million (17.2 percent) Americans aged 40 years and older have cataract in one or both eyes, and 6.1 million (5.1 percent) have had their lens removed operatively. The total number of people who have cataracts is estimated to increase to 30.1 million by 2020.
How to prevent cataracts naturally at home
If you’re looking for a cure for eye cataract or the natural way to cure cataract, what you really need to look into is prevention. To date, cure for eye cataract is surgery, but there are lifestyle changes you can make to prevent cataracts and protect your vision. Follow these easy tips:
- Improve the lighting in your home with more lighting and brighter lamps.
- Limit your night driving.
- When you go outside in daytime, wear sunglasses or a broad-brimmed hat to reduce glare.
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths.
- Get your eyes checked once a year (more often, if you’ve noticed problems).
- Make sure your eyeglasses or contact lenses are the most accurate prescription (further to the tip above!).
- Use a magnifying glass to read.
- Keep diabetes under control with diet, exercise, and medication.
- Quit smoking!
Home remedies for cataract prevention
The best home remedies for cataracts start with food for cataracts. The nutrients we take in help protect our cells from damage. The highlight of nutrition for cataract prevention is carotenoids, the pigments that occur naturally in algae and plants.
Carotenoids help to absorb damaging blue and near-ultraviolet light to protect your vision. Here are some top foods for cataract prevention:
Leafy greens, bell peppers, and carrots. Eat more spinach, kale, and Swiss chard – all rich in the carotenoid, lutein. Another top plant source is red bell pepper. Red peppers also provide good-for-eyes vitamin C. Carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables are also top choices for eyes: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue, is a vision booster. It helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function optimally.
Fatty fish, especially salmon (wild-caught is best). Fish has essential fatty acids that your body and eyes depend on. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the primary omega-3 fatty acid found in these fish – and a nutrient that concentrates in the retina.
Eggs. Eggs contain the omega-3 fatty acid DHA and are the most readily available source of carotenoids, which are more easily absorbed by the body from eggs than from vegetables because of the fats the eggs contain. Who said eggs are just for breakfast?
Nuts and seeds. Vitamin E helps protect the cells in our eyes from free radicals, and nuts and seeds are packed with vitamin E. You don’t need a lot, either: one ounce of sunflower seeds or almonds will give you more than a third of your recommended daily dose of vitamin E. Walnuts are ranked as one of the best nut sources of omega-3s. Pistachios are a close second. In small amounts, they can be converted to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid used by the eyes, along with DHA.
Fresh fruits, especially avocados. Avocados are incredibly nutrient-rich. They’re a great source of carotenoids and other important eye nutrients such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and B6.
Herbs like ginkgo biloba. Herbs are also excellent home remedies for promoting good eyesight. Ginkgo biloba for eyes, in particular, works well to promote healthy blood flow that carries more essential nutrients to your cells.
Cataracts: risk factors, types, causes, and symptoms
While cataracts can happen at any age, most are related to aging. In your 40s and 50s, most cataracts are small and don’t seriously affect vision. After age 60, though, most cataracts “steal” your vision. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. One thankful note: a cataract can occur in one or both eyes, but it can’t spread from one eye to the other.
There’s also a link between cataracts and diabetes. Diabetics are considered to be at an increased risk for cataracts. Damage to the lens of the eye results from persistent high blood sugar or blood glucose levels. Moreover, if you’re diabetic, keep your blood sugar under control and in the healthy range.
Let’s take a closer look at cataracts and eye mechanics to understand the condition. According to the National Eye Institute, the lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. It works much like a camera lens to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded.
The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, allowing you to see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets the light pass through it.
The problem is, as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
The cause of cataract comes down to the protein in the lens changing from the wear and tear it takes over the years. But there are other causes that may make you more prone to cataract, including the following.
Causes of cataract
- Family history of cataracts
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as that used in X-rays and cancer radiation therapy
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications.
Symptoms of cataract
The most common symptoms of a cataract, noted by the National Eye Institute, are as follows:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Colors seem faded
- Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
Cataract treatment and diagnosis
Cataracts are easily diagnosed with an eye exam where your doctor will dilate your pupils to properly examine your eye. Based on the condition of your eyes and the progression of the cataracts, your doctor will choose the appropriate mode of treatment.
Treatment options for cataracts include prescription glasses or contacts, but if corrective eyewear doesn’t improve your vision you may be a candidate for cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is quite common in the U.S. with 1.5 million surgeries taking place each year. During the surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and is replaced with a clear artificial one. Ninety percent of patients who undergo cataract surgery experience vision improvement.
As you can see, there are steps you can take to help protect your vision and prevent cataracts naturally. Lifestyle habits and the right food for cataracts are excellent natural remedies for cataracts in eyes. Now’s the time to give your eyes good care and attention to help your vision stay clear and sharp in your senior years.