When the clear lens of the eye develops a clouding effect that affects the clear passage of light either completely or even slightly such as clouding it is called a cataract. Cataracts degenerate slowly, affecting the vision, and will cause total blindness eventually unless treated. This is a condition that develops in later life, and for the person afflicted, is compounded by the other effects of aging like reduced flexibility and the loss of quick reflexes. With the progressive degeneration of cataract due to advancing age, myopia (near-sightnedness) sets in and the yellowing of the eye lens in addition to getting more opaque, reduces vision considerably.
Cataracts cause no change in the appearance of the eye. Discomfort such as itching or red eyes will be the result of some other eye problem. Cataracts do not affect the sufferers health, nor do they cause the health of the eye to deteriorate. If, however the cataract becomes mature, and completely white (hypermature) the sufferer may get an inflammation in the eye, along with a headache. If this happens, the hypermature cataract must be removed.
As a cataract progresses, vision gets more opaque and therefore dull. Sensitivity to clear, defining lines gets blurred, details look fudged, colors begin to look washed out, and the overall picture that the eyes see is somehow lifeless. Light enters the eye like a shaft of parallel rays, but a cataract scatters the light into the eye through a veil of glare, and a red reflex will be the hall- mark of the affected eye. If your ophthalmologist suspects cataract, a contrast sensitivity test will be recommended. The development of cataract is extremely slow and gradual, and many patients are unaware that they have developed cataracts because the deterioration in their vision has been extremely gradual. Usually both eyes are affected by cataract, and it is common for cataracts in one eye to mature more rapidly than in the other. Cataracts are a common feature in old age, and occur in approximately 60% of the population above the age of 60 years. The symptoms of cataract invariably develop very slowly and cause no pain and there are rarely any discernible symptoms.
At the beginning of the cataract the cloudiness covers only a small area of the lens, and your vision seems to be the same as it always was. But as time advances the cataract spreads out and clouds more of the lens of the eye. Substantially less light gets through to the retina, your vision gets noticeable affected, and you are finally aware that something is wrong, and needs to be corrected.
The symptoms of cataract include any of the following:
There are quite a few reasons for the development of cataract. The reasons are varied and include exposure to ultraviolet light, to radiation, secondary effects of diabetes and hypertension, trauma which was experienced much earlier. The basic cause is the final dissolution of lens protein which promotes absolutely clear material for light rays to pass through. Once this clear protein succumbs to old age, it loses its ability to stay clear for the full passage of light to the retina. This results in blurred image seen by the eye.
The structure of the lens is mostly water and protein, some of which has the specific task of maintaining the absolute clarity of the lens, so that light can pass through in totality. With age the proteins of the lens gets modified, and lose the ability to keep the water in the lens clear. This leads to a gradual clouding of the lens, resulting in obstruction in vision. Besides advancing age, the other factors responsible for cataract at an earlier age include excessive exposure to UV light, diabetes and smoking.
Briefly listed, the causes of cataract include:
Home remedies are not really a treatment option for cataract, but in some cases they can help to an extent. Conventional medical care is however absolutely essential. While many natural treatments fall into the domain of pseudo-science with little supporting evidence, there are a number of natural treatment options that are backed by scientific studies. The notion of carrots being good for your eyes and helping to prevent or delay and even treat cataract may sound almost ludicrous, but its true! A study at Harvard Medical School among many others suggests that dietary carotenoids and long term vitamin C supplementation may actually help to lower the risk of severe cataracts. Carrots may be eaten raw, or the juice extracted and consumed preferably twice a day.
Keep in mind that while some natural methods may actually work, not all are equally effective.
Dried fruits such as dates, raisins and figs are said to make very good natural cures for cataracts when they are well soaked in water for a couple of hours.
A salad of raw vegetables included in the diet is beneficial for a cataract. Vitamin A is especially good and regarded by most as an essential nutrient for the health of your eyes.
As far as possible you should maintain adhere to a strict nutritional plan for a few months prior to the surgery for cataract. A diet that is low in calories may help as some studies have shown that reducing caloric intake by just 20 to 40 % can bring about a reduction in cataract by as much as 30 to 50%. In addition, this would also improve the general quality of life, boost immunity, and lower the risk of cancer.
High blood sugar levels could also have a role in the development of cataract. This means that diabetics are at a rather high risk of developing cataracts. Preventive care is therefore particularly important for people who have diabetes.
The following recommendations are to guide you to a quicker recovery from cataract.
Keep away from all types of refined sugars, especially white sugars and refined carbohydrates. Lactose present in all milk products can aid in cataract formation by attacking important elements inside the lens of the eye.
Make sure you consume an adequate amount of water daily as this helps to maintain the flow of nutrients to the lens of the eye, and releases the wastes and toxins from the tissues.
Eat foods with plenty of antioxidants like Vitamin C and E and beta carotene. Most fruits are high in antioxidants but fruits like apples, most types of cherries and berries and plums are particularly rich in antioxidants.
Keep in mind that many of these diet connections are not established by scientific studies and some are simply claims made by natural health enthusiasts. For diet information that can actually help, make it a point to consult a dietician or nutritionist.
Cataract is typically an age related degenerative disorder. For this reason its important to be particularly cautious about your visual abilities as you age. Make it a point to go for regular checkups and tests no matter how confident you are about your visual abilities.