4 Ways to Keep From Losing Your Eyesight (Cataracts)

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The human eye is uniquely equipped to stay young in appearance and health late into life (thanks to the heightened expression of the enzyme telomerase) but not without good nutrition!

The gradual clouding of the lens inside of the eye which leads to a decrease in vision - even blindness - is called a cataract. It is believed to be an inevitable part of aging, but it has clearly modifiable risk factors and natural interventions that can be used to slow and even reverse its progression, such as:

  1. Avoid Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs: It has been known from animal research for over two decades that statin drugs have the potential to cause the progressive clouding over of the lens of the eye known as cataract, and which is the most common cause of blindness.[1],[2] Post-marketing surveillance of statin drug users also shows that when taken, either alone[3] or in combination with other drugs which inhibit their metabolism, [4] these drugs increase the risk of cataract in those who take them. One of the identified mechanisms for the cataractogenic potential of these drugs is that they are able to gain systemic distribution throughout the body, passing through the blood-brain-barrier and entering the eye itself - particularly the outer cortical region of the lens where cholesterol synthesis is critical - thereby producing lens damage. For more information read our article "Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Eye Damage, JAMA Study Confirms Anew" or view the statin citations on our Cataract page.
  2. Curcumin (Turmeric extract): A solid body of evidence focusing on the beneficial effects of curcumin in the animal model of cataract formation reveals that this highly therapeutic polyphenol -- which gives turmeric its golden hue - is able to protect against the formation of cataracts.[5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]
  3. Lutein: Found in Kale, egg yolks, and marigold, has been found to improve visual function in patients with age-related cataracts, in a 2-year double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.[14]
  4.  Wheatgrass: According to a study published in the journal Biogerontology in 2005 titled, "Aging reversibility: from thymus graft to vegetable extract treatment -- application to cure an age-associated pathology,"[15] wheat grass may actually REVERSE LENS OPACITY ASSOCIATED WITH CATARACTS:

"Old dogs were orally treated for a month and the lens opacity analysed before and after the treatment. Results showed a reduction from 25 to 40% of lens opacity. The efficacy of wheat sprouts in the recovery of age-related alterations and in treating age-associated pathologies could be due to the contemporary presence of small regulatory acid peptides, a remarkable level of highly energetic phosphoric radicals and antioxidant molecules, peculiarities that may be, to some extent, related to the aging process regulation." [emphasis added]"

This list is only the tip of the iceberg and shouldn't be interpreted as an attempt to rattle off 'magic bullets.' Truth be told, there are hundreds of foods, spices, herbs, etc., which are likely to benefit the eye and prevent it from aging prematurely if we incorporate them in culinary doses into our diet. You can take a look at our Cataract Prevention database to view 30 other common foods/spices that may be of help. The point is to focus on organically-produced, nourishing, colorful, lovingly produced foods that are fresh made. This is what will keep the eyes young, vibrant and full of life!


[1] R J Gerson, H L Allen, G R Lankas, J S MacDonald, A W Alberts, D L Bokelman. The toxicity of a fluorinated-biphenyl HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor in beagle dogs. Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1991 Feb ;16(2):320-9. PMID: 2055362

[2] Paweł Zakrzewski, Jolanta Milewska, Krystyna Czerny. The eye lens evaluation of the atorvastatin-treated white rat. Ann Univ Mariae Curie Sklodowska Med. 2002 ;57(2):165-71. PMID: 12898835

[4] R G Schlienger, W E Haefeli, H Jick, C R Meier. Risk of cataract in patients treated with statins. Arch Intern Med. 2001 Sep 10 ;161(16):2021-6. PMID: 11525705

[5] S Awasthi, S K Srivatava, J T Piper, S S Singhal, M Chaubey, Y C Awasthi. Curcumin protects against 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal-induced cataract formation in rat lenses. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Nov;64(5):761-6. PMID: 8901798

[6] P Anil Kumar, P Suryanarayana, P Yadagiri Reddy, G Bhanuprakash Reddy. Modulation of alpha-crystallin chaperone activity in diabetic rat lens by curcumin. Mol Vis. 2005;11:561-8. Epub 2005 Jul 26. PMID: 16088325

[7] Palla Suryanarayana, Kamala Krishnaswamy, Geereddy Bhanuprakash Reddy. Effect of curcumin on galactose-induced cataractogenesis in rats. Mol Vis. 2003 Jun 9;9:223-30. PMID: 12802258

[8] Palla Suryanarayana, Megha Saraswat, Tiruvalluru Mrudula, T Prasanna Krishna, Kamala Krishnaswamy, G Bhanuprakash Reddy. Curcumin and turmeric delay streptozotocin-induced diabetic cataract in rats. Nutr J. 2008;7:3. Epub 2008 Jan 21. PMID: 15914628

[9] R Manikandan, R Thiagarajan, S Beulaja, G Sudhandiran, M Arumugam. Effect of curcumin on selenite-induced cataractogenesis in Wistar rat pups. Curr Eye Res. 2010 Feb;35(2):122-9. PMID: 20136422

[10] U Pandya, M K Saini, G F Jin, S Awasthi, B F Godley, Y C Awasthi. Dietary curcumin prevents ocular toxicity of naphthalene in rats. Toxicol Lett. 2000 Jun 5;115(3):195-204. PMID: 10814889

[11] Ramar Manikandan, Raman Thiagarajan, Sivagnanam Beulaja, Ganapasam Sudhandiran, Munuswamy Arumugam. Curcumin prevents free radical-mediated cataractogenesis through modulations in lens calcium. Free Radic Biol Med. 2010 Feb 15;48(4):483-92. Epub 2009 Dec 10. PMID: 19932168

[12] R Manikandan, R Thiagarajan, S Beulaja, S Chindhu, K Mariammal, G Sudhandiran, M Arumugam. Anti-cataractogenic effect of curcumin and aminoguanidine against selenium-induced oxidative stress in the eye lens of Wistar rat pups: An in vitro study using isolated lens. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 Oct 7;181(2):202-9. Epub 2009 May 27. PMID: 19481068

[13] S Padmaja, T N Raju. Antioxidant effect of curcumin in selenium induced cataract of Wistar rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004 Jun;42(6):601-3. PMID: 15260112

[15] Andrea Basso, Giuliana Rossolini, Anna Piantanelli, Domenico Amici, Isabella Calzuola, Loretta Mancinelli, Valeria Marsili, Gian Luigi Gianfranceschi. Aging reversibility: from thymus graft to vegetable extract treatment-- application to cure an age-associated pathology. Biogerontology. 2005;6(4):245-53. PMID: 16333758

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