Natural Cataract Treatments and Prevention
Cataracts are quite common in people over 55 and represent a primary cause of blindness worldwide. However, in the United States only, over half of the people have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery by the time they are 80 years old.
A cataract is a cloudiness of the lens inside the eye. The lens helps in refracting light so it could be focused on the retina. It is located behind the iris and is part of the anterior segment of the human eye.
Early cataract symptoms may develop slowly over the years, eventually interfering with your vision. They begin when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina.
The cataract symptoms may develop in both eyes; usually, one may be worse than the other, eventually leading to total or legal blindness.
There is a natural cataract treatment, including acupuncture together with Chinese Herbal Therapy. They can help strengthen eyes prone to vision problems and help slow the speed of progression of the condition.
This post will guide you through cataract symptoms, types, prevention, and cataract treatment options.
How to Avoid Cataracts? Cataract Acupuncture for the Best Prevention
Michael Woodworth L.AC from Makari Wellness is certified at Micro Acupuncture 48, a Gold Standard in Ophthalmic Acupuncture. This cataract treatment without surgery will help in recovering some vision and easing the symptoms.
Natural treatment for cataracts may include Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Supplements, and Nutrition and lifestyle counseling. Each treatment is individually tailored, depending upon the patient’s condition, constitution, and severity of the symptoms.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a condition where your lens (which should normally be clear) becomes cloudy. It forms when protein builds up in the lens and keeps light from passing through clearly. It usually develops slowly and painlessly, and at first, you may not notice that you have an eye cataract.
But as the cataract continues to develop, the opaque area becomes bigger and denser. As a result, your vision becomes blurred.
What Causes Cataracts?
Most cataracts are age-related eye disorders. However, some other factors can contribute to cataract development, like:
- Family history – there is a higher chance of developing a cataract if someone in your family has it.
- Diabetes mellitus – people with diabetes are at higher risk of having a cataract.
- Certain medications – Corticosteroids and chlorpromazine are associated with cataract development.
- Ultraviolet radiation – unprotected exposure to harmful UV rays may lead to cataracts.
- Smoking – there is a possible link between smoking and cataract development.
- Nutritional deficiency – some studies suggest that low levels of antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and carotenoids) can lead to cataract formation.
- Alcohol consumption – higher alcohol consumption increases the chance of cataract development compared with people who have lower or no alcohol consumption.
- Eye injury or inflammation – many kinds of eye injuries may lead to cataract forming, like burn, kick, or splinter.
- Genetic factors – although rare, cataracts may be present at birth or develop shortly after. Their cause is genetic, but some may occur during intrauterine development when the mother suffers various diseases, like rubella.
What are the Symptoms of Cataract?
Symptoms of cataracts generally form very slowly. At first, they may affect only a small part of the lens, so you may not be aware of the vision loss. But as time passes, more noticeable symptoms may occur, including:
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Double vision
- Clouded, dim, or blurred vision
- Seeing ‘halos’ around lights
- Yellowing or fading of colors
- Difficulties in night vision
- Changes in the way of seeing color
- The trouble with contact lenses and eyeglasses (not working well)
Types of Cataracts
The human lens is composed of layers – the outermost is the capsule, the inner layer is the cortex, and the innermost is the nucleus. A cataract can develop in any of these areas. So we have:
- Nuclear cataract – affecting the center of the lens and tends to darken with age, changing from clear to yellow and sometimes even to brown. It is the most common type of cataract.
At first, it can even improve your reading vision. Still, advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty in distinguishing between shades of color.
- Cortical cataract – forms on the outside edge of your lens, called the cortex. This type of cataract starts as small wedges as triangles pointed toward the center of the eye. The main symptom is glare, as they scatter light. You will first notice difficulty driving at night; then, it may be hard for you to tell similar colors apart.
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts – form inside the back of the lens capsule (a part of the eye surrounding the lens and holding it in place). Their symptoms develop quickly, within months, and affect the close-up vision.
- Anterior subcapsular cataracts – this type forms in front of the lens capsule. Atopic dermatitis (type of eczema) can cause it, together with different kinds of injuries or swelling.
- Congenital cataracts – babies may be born with a cataract, or it can be formed in early childhood. Some of them are linked to genetic factors, and some can develop due to the illness during pregnancy, like rubella. There are several types: lamellar, posterior, and anterior polar cataracts.
- Traumatic cataracts – many signs of cataracts may develop due to an eye injury soon after it happens or may not show up until years later.
- Radiation cataracts – when you do not protect your eyes from UV rays, you can develop a cataract. Also, it can be a possible side effect of radiation therapy for cancer.
- Secondary cataracts – when an underlying illness can cause cataracts, like diabetes or glaucoma, it is called a secondary cataract.
- Brunescent cataract – is a rare type of cataract that occurs if you do not treat nuclear cataracts. It turns hard and brown, making the patient hard to tell colors apart, especially purples and blues.
When your doctor suspects you have a cataract, a comprehensive eye examination must be conducted. First of all, the doctor will ask you about your family history to determine a genetic factor involved. The doctor will also want to know everything about your symptoms, and then he or she will look closely at your eyes and do some testing, including:
- A visual acuity test is basically an eye chart exam. Your doctor will ask you to read letters and symbols from a distance to check the sharpness of your vision. It will do the test with one and then with another eye. A glare test may be included, where the doctor shines a bright light in your eye and then will ask you to read the letters.
- A retinal exam is conducted after your doctor puts eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil. This allows him to get a good look at the retina and a better view of the cataract.
- A slit-lamp exam is used to check different parts of your eye using a special microscope with bright light. First, the doctor will examine your cornea, the transparent outer layer; then the iris, the colored part of the eye, and the lens behind it.
- Eye pressure measurement to determine the presence of glaucoma (high intraocular pressure).
Depending on the results, your ophthalmologist will determine the presence of the cataract and recommend further treatment.
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Cataract Treatment Options
Conventional cataract treatment depends on the level of the visual impairment it causes. If the cataract in your eye(s) disturbs your vision minimally, no treatment is needed. However, in some cases, changing the eyeglass prescription may help in vision improvement. But when the cataract progresses to the point that it affects the patient’s ability to perform everyday tasks, surgery may be needed. It involves a small incision and the natural lens removal and replacing it with the artificial one. The artificial lens does not require care, and when the cataract is removed, it cannot grow back. It significantly improves vision. Two types of cataract surgery are in common use:
- Small-incision surgery or phacoemulsification, where a surgeon makes a tiny cut on your cornea and puts a small device that emits ultrasound waves. Those waves break up the cloudy lens, and the surgeon can take out the pieces and put in the artificial lens.
- Large-incision surgery is also called extracapsular cataract extraction. It requires a bigger incision because the surgeon will extract the lens in one piece and replace it with an artificial one. It is used when a patient suffers from larger cataracts that cause more vision impairment than usual.
- Femtosecond laser surgery uses a laser to break up the lens and then put in a new lens. It is convenient when a patient has astigmatism, as the surgeon can reshape the cornea and treat the blurry vision simultaneously.
After surgery of any type, the recovery usually goes smoothly. The duration of the recovery period depends on the type of surgery you get. After about a week or two, you will be able to perform everyday tasks with significantly improved vision. But as with any surgery, there are some associated risks. They include bleeding, infection, and retinal detachment. In addition, some people will develop posterior capsule opacification (PCO), where your vision may become cloudy again due to the thickening of the capsule holding the lens. Another laser surgery can fix the problem and is called YAG. This can happen 1 year or 10 years after the cataract surgery.
How to Cure Cataract Naturally Without Surgery?
Natural cataract treatment as a part of the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) may include Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Therapy. According to the TCM, the eyes are closely connected to the liver, kidneys, and spleen; the eyes require nourishment from the liver in order to function correctly. Although surgery is a perfectly safe option, acupuncture is a gentle, natural cataract cure, especially as a form of prevention.
Acupuncture for Cataracts
Acupuncture therapy is a procedure involving the thin, sterile needle insertion into the specific points in the body. Those points are known as acupuncture points and are located along meridians. Meridians are energy pathways, like streams that flow through our bodies. That energy is called Qi (or chee), and when it is out of balance, an illness occurs. The acupuncture treatment aims to restore the balance of Qi and promote the body’s own healing mechanisms. It can help in diminishing eye problems and prevent further development. If a problem had already developed, it could slow the speed of the progression of symptoms. From the TCM point of view, a cataract can develop due to the 3 main constitutional patterns:
- Weakness in the liver and kidneys – when the liver and kidneys do not function properly, the eyes will experience unclear vision.
- Weakness in the spleen – spleen has an essential role in nutrient transport in an upward direction. When this organ loses the ability to do its job, the eyes lose their nourishment, and disorder occurs.
- Excess heat in the liver – with a buildup of heat in the liver, patients will experience eye discomfort, blurred vision, and excessive secretion of tears from the eyes.
All these patterns can be treated successfully with acupuncture by correcting the imbalance in the energy flow. However, suppose you have any risk factors. In that case, it is always good to recognize any vision problem early on before they fully develop – prevention is the best treatment for any disease.
Chinese Herbs for Cataracts
How to cure cataracts naturally? Well, some cataract natural cures may include herbs. Some of the most common are:
- Tonifying herbs have immunity-boosting, anti-aging, and antioxidant effects. These are astragalus root, codonopsis root, poria, rehmannia root, privet fruit, wolfberry, paper mulberry fruit, herba cistance, and many others.
- Herbs that activate the blood and improve circulation – these open blood vessels and promote circulation. Common herbs include angelica root, peach seed, safflower, dan shen root, red peony root, motherwort fruit, and many more.
- Vision clarifying herbs improve vision and control cataract progression. These are buerger pipewort flower, cassia seed, common scouring rush herb, pale butterflybush flower, and many others.
- Herbs for softening hardness have softening and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, these herbs eradicate stasis to promote the absorption of the cataract; they include kelp, seaweed, rice grain sprouts, malt, and others.
Although the exact causes of cataracts are not known, some simple prevention strategies may reduce your cataract risk naturally.
- Have regular eye examination because it can help in detecting cataract in their early stage
- Wear protective glasses that block harmful UV rays
- Stop smoking
- Consume antioxidants, especially lutein and zeaxanthin
- Get your Omega-3 fatty acids
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep your other health problems under control
- Consider herbs that have anti-inflammatory compounds like bilberry and turmeric.