Cataracts cause an opaque blurring of vision. The condition is painless, and the onset is virtually imperceptible until vision is obscured. The person will have progressive loss of visual acuity with increased blurring.
What are Cataracts?
From Modern Western Medicine
Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to cloud and become hard, thus preventing adequate light from passing through the lens and interacting with the optic nerve. With time, vision becomes hazy and blurred, although complete blindness usually does not occur because the cataract does allow some light to penetrate the lens. Cataracts occur most frequently in the elderly. The disorder affects one eye more than the other, though both are often affected. The cause is unknown.
Treatment often involves the surgical removal of the opaque lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial substitute. In some cases, laser surgery is used to dissolve the cataract from the lens, thus creating a hole in the lens through which light can pass.
From Traditional Medicine
The traditional approaches to cataracts emphasize prevention, rather than treatment. Alternative therapies for cataracts are not well proven, and both within and outside the medical profession, many charlatans exist who attempt to take advantage of those seeking alternatives to cataract surgery. However, it is now understood that cataracts arise among the populations that subsist on a high-fat, high-protein diet, with low levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C. It is also well documented that cataracts arise from free-radical formation (see section on Nutrition in Part IV); therefore, a diet rich in antioxidants protects against free radicals and the formation of cataracts. Finally, people with diabetes should make significant changes in their diet and lifestyle to protect against the loss of sight and the onset of cataracts. (See the section on Diabetes.)
Who Gets Cataracts?
People over the age of 65 are most at risk. Opacification is usually minor among most elderly people and does not interfere with vision. Cataracts are considered almost normal among the elderly living in the Western world, but the condition is rare among the elderly living in traditional cultures that subsist on diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Foods to Eat
The following foods will help cleanse the body—especially the liver—of toxins. They will also encourage elimination and boost antioxidants:
- Vegetable juices (no two different juices are to be taken at one meal)
- Whole grains
- Vegetables rich in beta-carotene, such as carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, collard greens, kale, and broccoli
- Vegetables and fruit rich in vitamin C
- Shiitake mushrooms
Foods to Avoid
- Animal protein, except fish
- Dairy products
The liver meridian runs through the eyes and provides the organs with qi. Thus the condition of the liver is reflected in the eyes. When the liver is stagnant, the eyes become inflamed and taken out of focus by the muscles that control visual acuity. The foods suggested in the list of Foods to Eat will stimulate, open, and remove stagnation from the liver. Eating moderate amounts of food and avoiding food late at night will also promote healing of the liver and the gallbladder.
- Alternate hot and cold showers to stimulate circulation and proper hormone balance
- Vision improvement exercises (see section on Eyes in Part IV for exercises to improve vision)
- Local applications of cineraria maritima succus eye drops (most tried-and-tested botanical application): 1 drop, two to three times per day
- Beta-carotene: 20 mg per day
- Vitamin B complex: 50 mg per day
- Vitamin C: 100 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 60 – 400 IU, once a day