A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging: by age 75, as many as 70 percent of Americans have cataracts that are significant enough to impair their vision.
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.
As you age, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible, less transparent and thicker. The lens is made mostly of water and protein fibers. The protein fibers are arranged in a precise manner that makes the lens clear and allows light to pass through without interference. With aging, the composition of the lens undergoes changes and the structure of the protein fibers breaks down. Some of the fibers begin to clump together, clouding small areas of the lens. As the cataract continues to develop, the clouding becomes denser and involves a greater part of the lens.
The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred. As the clouding progresses, the cataract eventually interferes with your vision. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes, but cannot spread from one eye to the other. However, in most cases, cataracts tend to develop symmetrically in both eyes.
Common symptoms of cataracts are:
• Blurry vision
• Colors that seem faded
• Not being able to see well at night
• Double vision
• Frequent prescription changes in your eye wear
In addition to age, factors that increase your risk of cataracts include: Diabetes, family history of cataracts, previous eye injury, inflammation or surgery, prolonged use of corticosteroids, excessive exposure to sunlight, and smoking.
But in His wisdom, God has provided us with ways to counter the progressive damage to the eyes that occurs as we grow older. Some nutrients specifically support the lens of the eye, which is critical in reducing the risk of cataract development. These nutrients include:
Vitamin C - Numerous large and long-term studies have found that higher levels of vitamin C in the diet were associated with lower risk of cataracts, and a lesser need for cataract surgery. Vitamin C is water soluble, which makes it especially important to the lens of the eye. Because the lens of the eye is not supplied by any blood vessels, any nutrients it gets must be able to disseminate through the liquid portion of the eye.
In addition to citrus fruits, vitamin c can be found in red and green peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, berries, tomatoes, broccoli, and kiwi fruit.
Glutathione – Naturally present in the eye, and most concentrated in the lens, glutathione is a powerful antioxidant. It can counter the negative effects of free radical formation caused by high levels of light and oxygen that enter the eye through the lens. These free radicals are what degrade the protein in the lens, causing cataracts to form. Glutathione can be found in avocados, walnuts and almonds.
Alpha lipoic acid - This fatty acid is known as the universal antioxidant because it is both fat and water-soluble. Because of this, it can be absorbed by the fatty areas surrounding the optic nerve endings, and can penetrate the water soluble areas such as the eye lens. It also increases the formation of glutathione, and appears to be able to recycle vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin - In a Harvard University-based study, women with diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin experienced a 22 percent reduced risk of cataracts, while men reduced their risk by 19 percent. Foods rich in these carotenoids include carrots, corn, spinach and other leafy greens, red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and red, blue and purple fruits.
Bilberry extract - Bilberry fruit is a natural source of flavonoid and anthocyanidin antioxidants, and especially effective in protecting the eye from free radical damage.
Quercetin - A flavonoid antioxidant found in foods such as apples and onions, quercetin may help to maintain lens transparency after oxidative stress.
Eat a diet that includes plenty of these antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to protect your eyes from the free radical damage that leads to cataracts. To ensure that you are getting enough of these nutrients on a daily basis, you may want to add a supplement that specifically addresses eye health. Vision Support contains the above nutrients, as well as a full spectrum of extracts, compounds, vitamins and minerals to protect your vision.
Other Steps to Take to Prevent Cataracts
• Don't smoke. Smoking produces free radicals, increasing your risk of cataracts.
• Protect yourself from the sun. Ultraviolet light may contribute to the development of cataracts, so wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you're outdoors.
• Take care of other health problems. Follow your treatment plan if you have diabetes or other medical conditions.
Do what is necessary – follow these steps and take advantage of God's natural provisions so that you, like Moses, can see clearly all the days of your life.
"Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated." Deuteronomy 34:7