Cataracts are an eye condition that cause clouding or transparency with the lens of the eyeball.

Cataracts are an eye condition that cause clouding or transparency with the lens of the eyeball. Eyes, which are free from the condition, should be clear and have an ability to focus and adjust to light entering the retina, which then will transmit signals to the brain. This is what produces an image.

There are symptoms, which are specific to cataracts; including a gradual blurred vision and much more light sensitivity from both the sun and artificial light producing objects, such as a light bulb.

How are cataracts caused

Cataracts are known to be the causes of molecules of protein gathering and clumping together and depositing onto the lens of the eyeball, which in turn will then prevent light from entering effectively to the retina.

There are several possible causes that are thought to cause this condition, such as smoking (which is thought to be one of the most likely causes), over exposure to harmful UV light from the sun is another. A third prominent cause is thought to be free radical damage to the protein in the lens of the eyes. Free radicals are chemical substances in the body that are highly reactive and can damage cell material (including proteins). If these free radicals are then left without treatment a risk is higher of cataracts developing.

There are certain factors which may effect the risk of cataracts, again increasing the risk, these can be illnesses such as diabetes or obesity, both of which contain high blood sugar levels, which over a time, can damage the proteins in the lens of the eyes.

Dietary Advice to combat the possibility of cataracts

• If you are a smoker, get on the road to quitting.

• Cut back on food with high fat content.

• Eat lots of dark green vegetables such as spinach; these contain nutrients called lutein and zaxanthin, which both contribute to healthy eyes.

• Always wear sunglasses when going out on bright days, especially sunny or very bad snowy days. Please bear in mind that blue-eyed people are much more sensitive to sunlight due to the pigment.

There are also many nutrition supplements available on the market, which medicine experts believe that, if caught early enough, cataracts can be significantly improved or the progression can be halted with the correct supplements. Many of these have been shown, in tests, to show positive results in many cases. Bilberry in particular was proven (in one particular study) when mixed with Vitamin E was shown to halt the progression in cataracts in 48 out of 50 individuals.

All the nutrients included have one thing in common; they are all antioxidants that have the ability to neutralize (or dilute) free radicals, which are one of the main causes of cataracts as explained above.

Below is a list of such supplements and a brief description of what each has contributed to research.

• Bilberry – In Europe, this nutrient is widely accepted for its protective and therapeutic effects. Tests have proven it to be much more beneficial for cataracts, poor vision and macular degeneration. It can also strengthen blood vessels which nutrients are able to travel though within the eyes.

• Vitamin E – This is a powerful antioxidant

• Lutein – This acts as an antioxidant and also helps to minimize the effects of the suns ultraviolet rays.

• Grape Seed Extract/Oil – This is a very strong antioxidant nutrient that can help blood to circulate more freely in the eye.

• Selenium - This is again a powerful antioxidant mineral that will help to neutralize free radical damage in the body.

• Vitamin C – A fighter of free radical cells that works together with Vitamin E

• Alpha Lipoic Acid – Has the unusual and unique ability to recycle both Vitamin C and E within the body structure and therefore is able to maintain the levels of these crucial nutrients at the body’s natural requirements.