A cataract is a condition that leads to clouding of the eye lens that may cause vision impairment. Cataract develops at a very slow pace. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for over 50% of the world’s blind population, affecting some 17 million people. Cataract can be corrected through simple natural treatment at the early stages.1
Symptoms Of Cataract
- Blurring of the vision
- Reduction in night vision
- “Glare” when looking at artificial light or sunlight
- Eventual blindness
How Does A Cataract Form?
The lens, where cataracts form, is positioned behind the colored part of your eye (iris). Protein molecules of the lens are arranged in such a way, as to keep it transparent and allow visible light to pass through it onto the retina, the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
The lens focuses light that passes into your eye, producing clear, sharp images on the retina. With aging and exposure to ultraviolet light, the protein fibers of the lens become oxidized and clump together. This clumping causes the lens to become increasingly cloudy.
A cataract scatters the light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharply defined image from reaching your retina. As a result, your vision becomes blurred. As the cataract continues to develop, the clouding becomes denser.
Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes. If they develop in both eyes, one will be more severely affected than the other.2
Factors that can increase the risk of cataract formation include:
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic diseases such as obesity, hypothyroidism and diabetes
- Congenital disorders in children
- Living at increased altitudes
Home Remedies To Prevent Cataract
1. Cineraria Maritima
Cineraria maritima or dusty miller, is a common herb whose juice is known to dissolve cataracts. The India’s Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has noted that Cineraria tincture, homeopathic remedy for cataracts, can prevent the development of cataracts in eyes.
The aerial parts of the plant (leaves and stem) are used in homeopathic preparations for ophthalmic uses in the treatment of corneal clouding, opacity, cataract, and conjunctivitis. The juice from the leaves is believed to contain a cataract retardant.
The sterilized juice of the plant is employed for the treatment of capsular and lenticular cataracts of the eye and its use is recommended before resorting to an operation. To obtain the full effects of this herb, the mother tincture must be used diluted in saline water.
When applied to the eye, it is thought to act as a lymphagogue, increasing circulation in the tissues of the eyes and also stimulating circulation and normal metabolism.
In an animal study on the use of Cineraria Maritima for treating cataract significant differences in light transmission values of the lenses between treated and non-treated animals were found, with favorable results.
Dosage – The recommended therapy is 1 to 2 drops in the eye, 3 to 6 times daily. 3
2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha (root of Withania somnifera) used in traditional ayurvedic medicine has also been shown to retard light-induced damage to the lens.
Researchers say, by regular intake of this plant’s extract or its root powder, you can delay the cataract formation by 45%. Progression of age-related cataract can be arrested by intake of this herb according to studies.
A study conducted at the L V Prasad Eye Institute reported that their experiments was also able to retard the formation of ‘cold cataract’ (a phenomenon where the proteins of the eye lens separate) suggesting that ashwagandha could well act as a cataract-static agent.
Dosage – A typical traditional dosage of ashwagandha is 1 to 2 gm of the root (boiled in milk or water for 15-20 minutes) taken 3 times daily. However, more research needs to be done on the dosage and efficacy of ashwagandha for cataract prevention and treatment.4
Bilberry extract contains powerful antioxidant flavonoids that offer tremendous protection for the eyes. The anthocyanosides in bilberry help the body produce rhodospin, an important pigment that aids in vision. The compounds in bilberry may not directly improve vision and eye health, but bilberry may offer benefits to the eye.
Bilberry’s flavonoids are known as potent antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and used for multiple age-related ocular disorders. Studies have suggested the potential health benefits of bilberry on certain eye conditions, but more studies are needed to confirm the results.
Dosage – For eye-related conditions, the dosage may range from 80mg to 480mg bilberry extract up to three times daily. However, before using bilberry, discuss this supplement with your healthcare provider.5
Note: Self-treatment of eye diseases might put at risk an individual’s visual ability. Therefore, before taking any herbal supplements, it is best advised to consult an expert. However, certain dietary modifications can be made to improve the condition. High dietary intakes of antioxidant nutrients, particularly vitamins C and E, selenium and carotenes, have been shown to lower risk of developing cataracts.
|↑1||World Health Organization: Management of Cataract in Primary Health Care Services. Geneva, 1990, Switzerland: WHO|
|↑2||What Are Cataracts?|
|↑3||Homeopathic Treatment of Incipient Cataracts|
|↑4||Thiagarajan G, Venu T, Balasubramanian D. Approaches to relieve the burden of cataract blindness through natural antioxidants: Use of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). Curr Sci 2003;85:1065–1071.|
|↑5||Bilberry, University of Maryland Medical Center|