Cataracts are clumps of protein that collect on the lens of an eye and interfere with vision. Normally, light passes through the lens (the clear tissue behind the pupil) and focuses on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of the eye that sends visual signals to the brain. A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens becomes cloudy. Most cataracts develop slowly over time and are a natural result of aging. Once cataracts become large enough that vision loss interferes with everyday activities such as driving, reading, or watching television, they
should be surgically removed. Signs and symptoms include decreased or blurred vision (often described as a “fog”) double vision, halo around lights, “Second sight” – when an individual who normally wears reading glasses can suddenly read without them, brown spots in the visual field. It is not clear what causes these proteins to clump together, but some researchers speculate that cataracts may develop as a result of chemical changes in the lens that occur with aging. Other researchers believe that there may be several causes of cataracts, including smoking, diabetes, and excessive exposure to sunlight, or in summary – any free radical damage to the eye will cause the proteins to clump faster.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with cataracts is to investigate which free radicals they’ve had most exposure to that may have contributed to their cataract formation. Then specific antioxidants may be prescribed to help minimize further progression of the cataracts.