Slow Down or Prevent Cataracts ---
Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies
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Can't Find an Article?- Index of Conditions

August 29, 2017

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

If you’re over 40, you’d better watch out for your eyes. Your
risk of cataracts increases with every decade after you hit the
big 4-0. By the age of 75, over half of all Americans will have
cataracts, according to the National Eye Institute. Cataracts
may seem inevitable, but is there anything you can do to lower
your risk?

A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye clouds, which
causes vision impairment. Prevent Blindness America says there
are more cases of cataracts in the world than macular
degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma combined.

But no matter how old, or young, you are, there are steps you
can take to lower your risk of cataracts and slow down the
pace at which they develop.

What Exactly Are Cataracts?

The lens of your eye is normally clear but when there is a
cataract present it is a little like looking through a fogged-up
window or steamed-up glasses. Cataracts may make it more
difficult to drive, read, or judge facial expressions.
At first, cataracts do not cause vision problems but as they
develop they will interfere with how you see things. Cataracts
usually affect the two eyes but probably not evenly. There are
different types of cataracts that are classified depending on the
part of the eye they affect.

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts are characterized by a cloudy or blurry vision and
increasing difficulty seeing at night. You may experience
sensitivity to lights, and you may actually need a brighter light
to read. Other signs include seeing a “halo” around lights and
seeing colors as faded or yellowed. If you are experiencing
frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription it could be a
sign of cataracts.

What Are the Causes of Cataracts?

Most cataracts are caused by an injury to the tissue in the eye’s
lens, which could also be the result of aging. Cataracts could be
seen as a “natural” side effect of aging since the eye does
undergo significant wear and tear as you get older; the lens
becomes less flexible, thicker, and less translucent – but they
do not happen to everyone.

Cataracts are more likely if you have certain medical conditions
like diabetes, you have had eye surgery, or you have certain
inherited genetic disorders. Some people are born with

You are also more likely to have cataracts if you smoke, are
obese, have high blood pressure, previous eye injury or
inflammation, you drink lots of alcohol, or you have used
corticosteroid medications over a long period of time.

Can Cataracts Be Prevented?

Experts have not yet proved that cataracts can be slowed or
stopped, but there are many doctors who believe that there are
several ways you can slow down or prevent cataracts from
developing. These strategies include having your eyes checked
regularly, stopping smoking, eating a
healthy eye-friendly diet,
making sure that any other medical conditions like diabetes are
properly managed, and wearing sunglasses.

We looked at some of these strategies in detail to find out how
science has shown cataract risk being lowered with natural

Consume Lutein and Zeaxanthin from Green Leafy
Vegetables to Lower Your Risk of Cataracts

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in dark green,
leafy vegetables.

A 2008 study from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard
Medical School, Boston found that women who consumed the
most lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet had an 18 percent
lower chance of cataracts forming than those who consumed
the least. These antioxidants may help prevent cataracts by
helping the eye filter damaging blue light. The study looked at
35,551 women taking part in the Women's Health Study
(1993) who were followed for 10 years.

Cooked spinach and kale have the highest levels of lutein and
zeaxanthin. Other greens rich in the nutrients are collard
greens and turnip greens.

Do Omega 3 Fatty Acids Reduce Cataract Risk?

A 2005 study by authors including W Hodge, D Barnes, HM
Schachter, Y Pan, EC Lowcock, and L Zhang looked at a large
amount of data on over 71,000 women and found that women
with a higher intake of omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish,
did tend to have a reduced risk of cataracts but they also
concluded that there was insufficient evidence to draw a firm

Further research is needed to see if omega 3 fatty acids can
indeed effectively prevent cataracts.

Protect Your Eyes From Sunlight All Year Round to Prevent

A study from Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in 1998
stated that “there is no safe dose of exposure to the sun's
ultraviolet B rays when it comes the risk of cortical cataract,
which means people of all ages, races and both sexes should
protect their eyes from sunlight year-round.”

The study recommended that even people who do not have an
outdoor job and only get exposure to sunshine during limited
leisure hours need to take precautions with sunglasses and a
wide-brimmed hat. The study looked at 2,520 adults aged
between 64 and 84 and included using a special device on
some participants to monitor the amount of UVB light reaching
the eyes.

And Wear Sunglasses Even When You’re in the Car?

It seems that when you are driving, the side windows do not
offer much protection against UVA light that can cause eye
problems like cataracts.

UVA light is more prevalent than UVB and it can pass through
glass and clouds.

A 2016 study from the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in
Beverly Hills, CA says that the level of protection in car
windows in the US is unclear but that studies show how
cataracts are more common in the left side of the face – the
one that is most exposed to sunlight in US drivers.

Researchers looked at the level of UVA blockage in a total of 29
cars and found that the average was 96 percent from the front
windshield, but that the driver side window only offered
average protection of 71 percent.

Stop Smoking to Lower Cataract Risk By 42%

One of the ways you can slow down the development of
cataracts is to stop smoking.

A 2014 study from Orebro University Hospital in Sweden shows
that just 15 cigarettes a day raises the risk of needing a
cataract operation by a whopping 42 percent.

The study looked at a total of 44,371 Swedish men aged
between 45 and 79 who completed a questionnaire about their
smoking and lifestyle habits. The researchers noted that while it
takes decades for the risk of cataracts to recede after quitting,
it was possible to decrease the chances of cataracts by
stopping. The higher the intensity of smoking, the longer it
took for the increased risk to decline. Of course, never starting
smoking is obviously the better solution for avoiding cataracts
in later life.

Keep Your Diabetes Under Control to Help Prevent Cataracts

If you have diabetes, keep it well-controlled to avoid cataracts.
Research shows that people with diabetes have up to a 66%
greater risk of cataracts.

A 2010 study from Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Vitreoretinal
Services, Chennai, India shows that “nearly two thirds of the
diabetic population showed evidence of cataract; mixed
cataracts were more common than the monotypes ones.” The
study looked at 1,283 people with type 2 diabetes.

Corticosteroids and Statins Linked to Cataract Development

If you want to slow down or prevent cataracts, avoid using
corticosteroid medications over a sustained period of time. This
type of medication is linked with the development of cataracts.

A 2006 study from Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Québec,
Canada says that “orally inhaled corticosteroid use has been
convincingly linked to an increase in the risk of cataracts,
although the risk at lower doses in common use remains
uncertain.” But there was not such a convincing link between
cataracts and nasal corticosteroids – researchers concluded “an
excess risk with nasal corticosteroids was not apparent for
severe cataracts.”

And statins may also be a problem. A 2013 study from the San
Antonio Military Medical Center, Texas shows that people who
used statins for high cholesterol had a 27 percent higher risk of
cataracts that people that did not use statins. Previous studies
had been inconclusive over the risk –some said there was a
risk, and others said not.

Prevent Cataracts With a Diet Rich in Vitamin C

Pack your diet with foods rich in vitamin C, an important
antioxidant, if you want to slow down cataract progression,
according to a 2016 study from King's College London, in the

The researchers looked at data from 1,000 female twins who
completed a questionnaire and had their eyes measured, and
again after 10 years. The first measurement showed that a
higher vitamin C intake was linked to a 20 percent lower risk of
cataracts, and the 10-year measurement showed a 33 percent
lower risk when vitamin C consumption was high. The study
focused on vitamin C from food rather than supplements.

Eat a Healthy Diet For Lower Cataract Risk

You can also lower your risk of cataracts and slow down their
development by eating a generally healthy diet, according to

Women who eat foods rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals
have a lower risk of developing cataracts, according to a 2010
study from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The researchers looked at 1,808 women and concluded that
“Results from this study indicate that healthy diets, which
reflect adherence to the U.S. dietary guidelines at the time of
entry in the Women's Health Initiative study, are more strongly
related to the lower occurrence of nuclear cataracts than any
other modifiable risk factor or protective factor studied in this
sample of women.”

Can You Prevent Cataracts With Caffeine?

And some experts believe that caffeine may be effective at
protecting the lens of the eye and slowing down the
progression of cataracts. A 2010 study from the University of
Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore suggested that
caffeine may protect the tissue in the eye from damage, by
testing their theory on mice lenses. The researchers noted that
“these effects of caffeine have not been reported before and
are hence considered highly interesting in view of its relatively
high content in widely consumed beverages.”


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Oranges and other Vitamin C rich foods help to maintain
the health of your eyes. Try this delicious orange salad
over tri-colored greens, here topped with white balsamic
Orange juice and Greek yogurt smoothie. Half a cup of
orange juice, one half a cup of Greek yogurt.  I add 2
ice cubes and a banana, oatmeal or chia seeds to bulk
up the mixture.