As we age, the lens of the eye can become clouded, impairing vision. These opacities in the normally transparent lens are called cataracts, and represent the most common cause of blindness (MedlinePlus 2012). Almost 25 million people worldwide have vision loss as a result of cataracts, which accounts for over 47% of blindness globally (Resnikoff 2004; West 2010; Allen 2011; Hashim 2012). More than 50% of people in the United States over age 80 either have cataracts or have undergone surgery due to this condition (MedlinePlus 2012).
While cataracts are a significant impairment, they can be surgically treated by removing the original lens and replacing it with a long-lasting synthetic lens. Though there are no FDA-approved drug treatment options for cataracts (Yanoff 2013), cataract surgery represents one of the most successful interventions in medicine (Lichtinger 2012).
Although conventional surgical treatment is an important consideration in the management of advanced cataracts, the medical establishment often fails to emphasize the need to maintain healthy blood glucose levels to slow progression or prevent onset of cataracts. Most physicians appreciate the association between overt diabetes and cataracts, but many overlook the role of elevated blood sugar in cataract formation among non-diabetics (Aoki 2007; Drexler 2001; Jessani 2009). The lens of the eye is particularly susceptible to glycation reactions, in which high glucose concentrations damage proteins and contribute to tissue dysfunction (Jain 2002; Pereira 1996; Franke 2003). A number of human studies have associated higher-than-normal glucose levels with substantially increased risk of various types of cataract (Weintraub 2002; Kanthan 2011; Saxena 2004; Tan 2008). Sadly, although it may be possible to prevent cataracts or slow their progression simply by controlling blood sugar levels (Taylor 1995; Madar 1993, 1994; Cohen-Melamed 1995), many at-risk individuals remain unaware of the profound impact of elevated glucose levels on the lens of the eye.
In this protocol you will not only learn how cataracts form and what causes them, but also how dietary and lifestyle considerations may help prevent cataracts and slow the progression of lens opacification. Conventional treatment of cataracts will be discussed, as will some novel and emerging therapeutic strategies that may improve treatment outcomes. The role of targeted natural interventions in combating specific disease processes that underlie cataract development, such as oxidative stress and glycation, will be examined as well.