(BlackDoctor.org) — Keep your lenses clear by limiting the damage that causes cataracts, a condition that produces cloudiness in the eyes.
According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful:
What You Need To Know:
- Load up on lutein
Supplement with 15 mg of this healthy
antioxidant three times a week to improve vision in cases of age-related
- See what C can do
Help maintain antioxidant protection
against cataracts by taking 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day
- Enjoy an eye-healthy diet
Eat plenty of green, leafy,
lutein-rich vegetables, such as spinach and kale
- Say good-bye to smoking
Kick the habit to reduce the
risk of oxidative damage that can lead to cataracts
- Block those rays
Shield your eyes from excessive
exposure to sunlight to reduce the risk of oxidative damage leading to cataracts
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full cataracts article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins,
herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful
Obese men are significantly more likely to develop a cataract than are men of normal body weight.4 To date, most, but not all, population studies have found an increased risk of cataracts as body mass increases.
In the beginning stages, magnifying lenses, stronger eyeglasses, and brighter lighting may compensate for the vision problems caused by cataracts. Once the vision problems affect daily activities, surgery may be necessary to replace the clouded lens with a clear artificial lens. For many people, the lens capsule remaining in the eye after surgery eventually turns cloudy, causing additional loss of vision.
Vitamins that may be helpful
People with low blood levels of antioxidants and those who eat few antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have been reported to be at high risk for cataracts.
Vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 are needed to protect glutathione, an important antioxidant in the eye. Vitamin B2 deficiency has been linked to cataracts. Older people taking 3 mg of vitamin B2 and 40 mg of vitamin B3 per day were partly protected against cataracts in one trial. However, the intake of vitamin B2 in China is relatively low, and it is not clear whether supplementation would help prevent cataracts in populations where vitamin B2 intake is higher.
The major antioxidants in the lens of the eye are vitamin C and glutathione (a molecule composed of three amino acids). Vitamin C is needed to activate vitamin E, which in turn activates glutathione. Both nutrients are important for healthy vision. People who take multivitamins or any supplements containing vitamins C or E for more than 10 years have been reported to have a 60% lower risk of forming a cataract.
Vitamin C levels in the eye decrease with age. However, supplementing with vitamin C prevents this decrease and has been linked to a lower risk of developing cataracts. Healthy people are more likely to take vitamin C and vitamin E supplements than those with cataracts according to some, but not all, studies. Dietary vitamin C intake has not been consistently associated with protection from cataracts. Nonetheless, because people who supplement with vitamin C have developed far fewer cataracts in some research, doctors often recommend 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C supplementation as part of a cataract prevention program. The difference between successful and unsuccessful trials may be tied to the length of time people actually supplement with vitamin C. In one preliminary study, people taking vitamin C for at least ten years showed a
dramatic reduction in cataract risk, but those taking vitamin C for less than ten years showed no evidence of protection at all.
Low blood levels of vitamin E have been linked to increased risk of forming cataracts. Dietary vitamin E intake has not been consistently associated with protection from cataracts. Vitamin E supplements have been reported to protect against cataracts in animals and people, though the evidence remains inconsistent. In one trial, people who took vitamin E supplements had less than half the risk of developing cataracts, compared with others in the five-year study. Doctors typically recommend 400 IU of vitamin E per day as prevention. Smaller amounts (approximately 50 IU per day) have been proven in double-blind research to provide no protection.
Some, but not all, studies have reported that people eating more foods rich
in beta-carotene had a lower the risk of developing cataracts. Supplementation
with synthetic beta-carotene has not been found to reduce the risk of cataract
formation. It remains unclear whether natural beta-carotene from food or
supplements would protect the eye or whether beta-carotene in food is merely a
marker for other protective factors in fruits and vegetables high in
People who eat a lot of spinach and kale, which are high in lutein and
zeaxanthin, carotenoids similar to beta-carotene, have been reported to be at
low risk for cataracts. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene offer the promise
of protection because they are antioxidants. It is quite possible, however, that
lutein is more important than beta-carotene, because lutein is found in the lens
of the eye, while beta-carotene is not. In one preliminary study, lutein and
zeaxanthin were the only carotenoids associated with protection from cataracts.
People with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin were half as likely to
develop cataracts as those with the lowest intake. In another study,
supplementation with 15 mg of lutein three times a week for one year
significantly improved visual function in a small group of people with
The flavonoidquercetin may also help by blocking sorbitol accumulation in the
eye. This may be especially helpful for people with diabetes, though no clinical
trials have yet explored whether quercetin actually prevents diabetic
Are there any side effects or
Refer to the individual supplement for
information about any side effects or interactions.
Herbs that may be
Bilberry, a close relative of
blueberry, is high in flavonoids called anthocyanosides. Anthocyanosides may
protect both the lens and retina from oxidative damage. The potent antioxidant
activity of anthocyanosides may make bilberry useful for reducing the risk of
cataracts. Doctors sometimes recommend 240 to 480 mg per day of bilberry
extract, capsules or tablets standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides.
Are there any side effects or
Refer to the individual herb for information
about any side effects or interactions.