Cataracts are a cash cow for many eye doctors—they make a boatload off treating them. But what no one’s telling people is that there are steps you can take to prevent cataracts from developing in the first place.
Cataracts are often the result of damage to the proteins in the eye. The process is similar to what happens to the white of an egg when you cook it. As the protein becomes oxidized, it hardens and loses its transparency. To prevent cataracts from developing, you need to concentrate on two things: reducing the damage-causing compounds, and increasing the level of antioxidants available to the eye.
Here are three steps you can take to keep cataracts from developing:
- Avoid carbohydrates. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging have found that increased simple carbohydrates in the diet increase the risk of developing cataracts. The average daily intake of simple carbohydrates of 417 women aged 53 to 73 was studied for 14 years. Those whose average intake was between 200 and 268 grams per day were 2.5 times more likely to develop cataracts than those whose intakes averaged between 101 and 185 grams per day.
- Increase your intake of vitamin C and certain amino acids. The concentration of vitamin C in the fluid of the eye is among the highest in the body. Studies have shown that the lenses of your eye require up to 20 times more vitamin C than the rest of your body, especially as you age. Yet research is revealing that cataract patients have lower concentrations of vitamin C in the lens, and with increasing age, the eye becomes less permeable to vitamin C and more vulnerable to damaging UVB radiation from the sun. This chain of events has been implicated in the formation of cataracts. I recommend up to 2,000–2,200 mg per day.
- Take the amino acids cysteine and histidine. Cysteine increases glutathione levels in the eye, which, like vitamin C, protects the lens from damaging UVB radiation. Animal studies have shown that when histidine is missing in the diet, cataracts may develop in as little as three weeks. Yogurt, wheat germ, granola, oats, ricotta, cottage cheese, and eggs are among foods rich in these amino acids that help rebuild and maintain the eye’s integrity. In supplement form, take 500 mg of each, twice a day.
Now it's your turn: Have cataracts been a problem for you?