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A Root Cause Medicine Protocol for Cataracts

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A Root Cause Medicine Protocol for Cataracts

Cataracts cause progressive vision impairment, such as increasingly blurry, hazy, or less colorful vision, which can significantly impact everyday activities like reading and driving. As the leading cause of blindness worldwide, cataracts are the most prevalent age-related eye condition

Conventional treatments like surgery offer effective solutions to removing cataracts and replacing the lens of the eye. In addition, integrative medicine approaches to eye health offer a more holistic solution. This article discusses a root-cause approach to cataract prevention and treatment, aiming to prevent and slow down the progression of this condition.


What Are Cataracts?

The lens is a normally clear, flexible structure mostly of proteins (crystallins) that help to focus light on the retina to allow for clear vision. Cataracts can occur gradually due to the normal aging process or as a result of trauma from an eye injury or surgery. 

Age-related cataracts are the most common type. Other forms of cataracts include congenital cataracts (in infants), traumatic cataracts due to a blunt force eye injury, and a secondary cataract complication (posterior capsular opacification) that occurs after cataract surgery.

The most common conventional treatment for cataracts is surgical intervention. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed via ultrasound or laser inserted through a small incision and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore clear vision. In cases of secondary cataracts, laser treatments can be used to address the opacification.

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts often form slowly and gradually causing increasing issues with vision over time that can interfere with activities like reading, using the computer, and driving.

Common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision, similar to looking through a dirty or frosted window
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in low-light conditions
  • Sensitivity to glare from lights and seeing halos around lights
  • Double vision in one eye (diplopia), as the clouded lens splits incoming light into two separate images
  • Colors that appear faded or yellowed due to the opacity of the lens, which interferes with the transmission of light

The Root Causes of Cataracts

A normal lens is clear, allowing light to pass through and focus onto the retina, creating a sharp image. Cataracts cause a clouding and thickening of the lens as the proteins in the lens clump together and seem to develop from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. 

Age-Related Changes

Age-related changes in the proteins within the lens cause them to start to break down and clump together, and prolonged exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can also cause damage to the proteins in the lens.

Genetic Causes

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to develop cataracts, while others may have a metabolic disorder that impacts enzyme function, which can increase the risk of cataracts.

Cardiometabolic Conditions

Cardiometabolic conditions, such as hypertension and obesity, are associated with a greater risk of cataract development, potentially secondary to elevated leptin and inflammatory cytokines, both of which lead to increased oxidative stress.

Environmental/Lifestyle Causes

UV radiation from sun exposure can lead to oxidative stress and protein damage within the lens. 

Lifestyle choices such as smoking and exposure to environmental toxins like radiation increase the risk of cataracts. 

Rare Causes of Cataracts

Less commonly, eye trauma can predispose an individual to injury-associated cataracts, and medications, including corticosteroids and statins, can increase the risk of cataracts.

How to Diagnose Cataracts

Regular eye examinations by a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist can provide evaluation and diagnosis of various eye conditions, including cataracts. 

  1. Your eye practitioner will take a thorough medical history to assess any symptoms such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night that may suggest a cataract is present. 
  2. Visual acuity testing can show your practitioner how well you can see at near and distance. 
  3. To obtain a closer look at the structures in your eye, your eye doctor will perform a slit-lamp examination with a specialized microscope. This examination helps examine the lens in detail, looking for clouding or opacities.
  4. Additional testing like contrast sensitivity evaluation can assess your ability to distinguish between different shades of light and dark, which can be impaired when cataracts are present. 

A Root Cause Medicine Treatment Plan for Cataracts

Understanding the underlying factors that cause cataracts discussed above can help provide a framework for a root-cause approach to cataract prevention and treatment. Here are some suggestions in order of importance for the highest success of treatment:

First, Learn About Surgical Options

Here’s why this is important:

Surgery is widely recognized as the most effective treatment for cataracts. It involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens. This procedure is highly successful; it improves vision in over 95% of cases, with a low complication rate. 

The surgery, often performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia, can significantly enhance the quality of life by restoring clear vision and reducing dependence on corrective eyewear. It offers a direct, impactful remedy that nonsurgical treatments simply cannot provide.

How do you do this:

Speak with your physician, who will be able to explain the procedure in detail and get you scheduled.

Next, Significantly Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation:

Here’s why this is important: 

Oxidative stress and the resulting inflammation and oxidative damage to lens proteins are key known factors leading to the initiation and progression of cataract formation.

How do you do this:

  • Add: some text
    • Whole foods, including colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy sources of fat such as wild fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil 
    • Incorporate a variety of colors of plant-based foods to get a range of polyphenols that act as powerful antioxidants to reduce reactive oxidative species that perpetuate oxidative stress.
    • Carotenoids, which are found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, pistachio nuts, eggs, orange bell peppers, and corn
    • Omega-3 fats from foods like wild fish, walnuts, or algae oils since research suggests that those who consume the most omega-3s have the lowest risk of cataracts.
  • Avoid/Reduce: some text
    • Inflammatory ultra-processed foods, added sugars, foods with trans or saturated fats in factory-farmed meats, deep-fried foods, commercial baked goods, refined grains like white bread and pasta, and excessive alcohol.
  • Include: some text
    • Herbs and spices with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including ginger, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, and pepper.
  • Consider Antioxidant Supplements: some text
    • Research shows the protective effects of antioxidant vitamin supplementation with vitamin C, zeaxanthin, lutein, and multivitamin-mineral supplements
    • Lutein and zeaxanthin intakes of around 4 to 6 mg/day help to reduce the rates of cataracts. 
    • Dosing and supplementation regimens should be personalized with the guidance of a qualified professional.

Finally, Maintain Overall Eye Health with Complementary Approaches

Here’s why this is important: 

  • Complementary therapies like acupuncture may offer benefits for overall eye health, vision, and symptom management as adjuncts to conventional treatment approaches like surgery for cataracts. 
  • These therapies can even help with surgical recovery.

How do you do this:

  • Acupuncture must be performed by a credentialed practitioner who will treat according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles and will individualize protocols for each patient.

The Serious Risks of Untreated Cataracts

Untreated cataracts can lead to serious complications and adverse outcomes such as vision loss. 

A number of secondary complications can result, such as glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure), retinal detachment, and macular edema (where the center of the retina swells with fluid, causing a loss of sharp central vision). 

How to Prevent Cataracts

Lifestyle factors such as UV protection, stopping and avoiding smoking, and managing blood sugar levels are all important for reducing the risk of cataracts. Here are recommended preventative measures you can take:

  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays to help reduce exposure 
  • Regulate blood sugar with the help of a nutrition professional to prevent metabolic syndrome, which is linked to a higher risk of cataract formation. 
  • Since chemicals in tobacco smoke and environmental toxins (including radiation) increase the risk of cataracts, avoid or minimize exposure


Key Takeaways

  • Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye that normally focuses light onto the retina becomes cloudy and thickened.
  • An integrative approach to cataracts combines conventional treatments like cataract surgery and laser treatments with complementary therapies like an anti-inflammatory diet and minimizing environmental exposures.
  • Lifestyle approaches like sunglasses for UV protection, smoking cessation, and blood sugar management can help prevent cataracts and maintain eye health.
  • Taking a comprehensive approach to managing cataracts can help you optimize your vision and overall well-being in the long term.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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