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Treatment of Cataracts

What can I do about cataracts?

Cataracts: Alternative Treatments Edward C. Kondrot, MD (H), CCH, DHt

What causes cataracts?

Are there any effective alternative treatments? Can homeopathy help in reducing cataracts after they develop? As an ophthalmologist and homeopath, I would like to share with you my experiences.

Normal Anatomy of the Human lens.

The human lens is located behind the pupil or colored part of the eye. It is a shaped like a small magnifying lens and is about ? inch in diameter. If you begin on the surface of the eye and travel inward you would pass through the following structures before reaching the lens: the cornea, which is the clear window and the outermost layer of the eye; the second structure is the clear fluid or aqueous humor in front of the iris. The accumulation of aqueous humor produces an elevation of pressure or glaucoma. The third structure that we pass is the iris or colored part of the eye. The iris is a diaphragm and it regulates the amount of light entering the eye. The fourth structure which is directly behind the iris is the lens. It is held in position by fibrous bands called zonules. It focuses images and light onto the retina much like a lens of a camera. The focused rays of light hit the retina and an image is transmitted to the brain. The human lens works to change the focus from distant objects to close ones. When you reach your early 40’s, changes take place in the lens which make focusing more difficult. This is called presbyopia.

Cataracts: What are they?

The term “cataract” was introduced by Constantinus Africanus (AD 1018), a monk and an Arabic oculist. He translated Arabic “suffusion” into Latin “cataracta,” meaning “something poured underneath something,” the “waterfall.” . It was felt that the clouding of vision was do to a film falling like water over the eye. Cataracts are not a film but are a clouding, hardness and loss of elasticity which occur in the human lens. Cataracts are associated with general arteriosclerotic changes, diabetes, sun exposure, trauma and poor nutrition. It is a fact of life that the longer you live the greater your likelihood of developing a cataract. Over 50% of people over the age of 60 will develop cataracts.

Cataracts: What is the cause?

As a person ages changes in the protein of the lens develop. Oxidative reactions develop which form abnormal disulfide and other covalent linkages. This causes the lens fibers to lose their transparency. Penetrating trauma from injury or ocular surgery usually results in rapidly progressive cataract, with lens fiber swelling, fragmentation, and opacification. Concussive injury can infrequently cause a rupture of the lens capsule with the development of a cataract or more commonly a contusion cataract forms in the anterior or posterior cortex.. These traumatic cataracts may be transitory, or they can remain if the lens fibers are damaged sufficiently. Ionizing radiation has a very high cataract producing affect, and the lens is its most sensitive target within the adult eye. Its damage is dose related and cumulative. The sources of electromagnetic radiation energy most important in damage to the lens are ionizing radiation (x-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons), emission of infrared or ultraviolet rays from various hot bodies, and microwave. Copper, iron and mercury poisoning can lead to the development of cataracts. Copper deposition in Wilson’s disease produces a characteristic sunflower cataract. In this inherited disease there is copper deposition in tissues, especially the liver, causing cirrhosis, and in the basal ganglia of the brain. Galactosemia and diabetes are two hereditary diseases which are related to the development of cataracts. Galactosemia is a uncommon hereditary disease of the newborn producing bilateral cataracts, mental retardation and enlargement of the liver. In diabetes mellitus, the usual cataract in these patients does not differ from senile cataract but occurs 20 to 30 years earlier than in a non diabetic. . Oxidative damage contributes to the decrease natural antioxidants in the lens, such as Glutathione, inositol, and ascorbic acid. Aging, diet, and other disease also play roles in deficiency of antioxidants.

Can cataracts be prevented?

Sunlight UV and Blue Violet sun rays increase the risk of developing cataracts. There are over 951 different references to back up the claim that sun light is the primary cause of cataracts. . Studies have shown that people who spend a great deal of time outdoors are three times as likely to develop cataracts. A good pair of sunglasses which block 100% of UVA and UVB and block at least 85% of blue violet sun rays are essential to protect the eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. On sunny days a wide brim hat should also be worn. If you smoke please do everything possible to stop. Smoking tobacco, especially more than 20 cigarettes per day, increases the risk of cataracts by more than 2 times. The risk in ex-smokers is 50 percent higher compared to non smokers. Each cigarette also robs the body of 25 mg of vitamin C. Smokers have an increase in lipids (both fat and cholesterol) which increase the risk of severe cardiovascular disease. These factors produce narrowing of the retina blood vessels that carry valuable nutrients to the eye. High intake of alcohol more than doubles the risk of developing cataracts. More than 7 drinks per week will increase the risk, while moderate use does not seem to increase the risk. Diabetics develop cataracts at an earlier age than non- diabetics. An accumulation of sorbitol and fructose in the lens can induce osmotic swelling of the lens, which will lead to the development of a cataract. A significant number of adults who develop cataracts have undiagnosed diabetes. If you have diabetes, every effort should be made to keep your blood sugar under control. There have been several studies to show that vitamin C can help reduce the level of sorbitol and reduce the incidence of cataracts formation.

Vitamins and Nutrients

There have been many large scale studies to show the effectiveness of vitamins on reducing the incidence of cataracts. A Canadian studied showed that patients over the age of 55 who consumed vitamin C and E supplements reduced their risk of developing cataracts by over 50%. A double blind study involving 30,000 patients performed at the University of Helsinki also demonstrated the beneficial effects of vitamins. Glutathione Loss of Glutathione occurs in all forms of cataracts. Since 1912, researches have shown that reduced levels of Glutathione precedes the development of cataracts. With increasing age the levels of Glutathione content of the human lens decreases by 4 to 14 times. Glutathione supplements are available but it is questioned weather this large molecule can pass through the digestive tract. N-acetyl-cysteine, a stable amino acid, has been shown to raise the levels of Glutathione. Cysteine is found in protein rich eggs. Completely avoiding eggs may rob the body of this amino acid which may have anti cataract properties. The lens of the human eye is bathed in a vitamin C rich aqueous solution which is 30 times more concentrated than the human blood. It appears that this vitamin C acts as an ultraviolet filter preventing the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. With age the levels of vitamin C begin to decrease and this may contribute to the formation of the senile cataract. There are several studies which have shown that high dosages of vitamin C (1000 mg/ day) will reverse the development of some cataracts. Riboflavin helps to make a substance called flavine adenine dinuceotide which is necessary for the production of Glutathione. High levels of Glutathione have been shown to keep the human lens clear and prevent the development of cataracts. In one study, 81 percent of patients with cataracts were deficient in riboflavin.

Daily vitamin and mineral recommendations for the treatment of cataracts Vitamin A 5,000 I. U. N-acetyl-cystene 250 mg. Vitamin C 1000 mg. Vitamin E (dl-alpha Tocopheryl) 800 I.U. Beta Carotene 25,000 I.U. Chromium 200 mcg. Zinc (Picolinate) 15 mg. Rutin 250 mg. Quercetin Bioflavonoid 300 mg. Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin HCL) 50 mg. The vitamin supplement that I recommend is a Cataract Nutritional Formula manufactured by Nutritional Research. Information can be obtained from 877-341-2703 or the web page is www.nutritionalresearch.net

Herbal Treatment

Cineraria maritima (Dusty Miller) The government of India’s Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have stated that tincture of Cineraria Maritima Succus is the drug of choice which prevents the development of cataract. The recommended therapy is 1 to 2 drops in the eye, 3 to 6 times daily. Boericke describes that it is most effective in traumatic cases and should be instilled into the eye one drop four or five times a day for several. Clarke states that patients should be receiving specific homeopathic treatment internally at the same time.

Homeopathy and Cataracts

Homeopathy is scientific method of therapy based on the principle of stimulating the body’s own healing processes in order to accomplish cure. The basic system was devised and verified by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, nearly 200 years ago. Homeopathy’s astounding success rates in both chronic and acute diseases has resulted in not only standing the test of time, but rapidly achieving widespread acceptance in Europe, India and South America. In Homeopathy (“homeo-” means “similar”), each of us is a total. complete individual, no aspect of which can be separated from any other. In Homeopathy each patient is evaluated as a whole person- mental, emotional and physical. The prescribing remedy is based on the unique patterns found on all three levels. This means that each person is given a remedy that will stimulate their particular body to heal. Ten people with Cataracts might receive ten different homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy has been carefully researched and its effectiveness has been reported in the following well respected national medical journals: Jacobs J, Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medication. Pediatrics 1994; 93:719-7255, Reilly DT , Is Homeopathy a Placebo Response? Lancet 1986; Oct: 881-886 and Kleijnen J, Clinical Trails of Homeopathy. British Medical Journal 1991; 302: 315-323. Selecting a homeopathic remedy for cataracts

Homeopathic Treatment of Incipient Cataracts

The best review article on the treatment of cataracts is The Homeopathic Treatment of Incipient Senile Cataract, with Tabulated Results of One Hundred Cases by A. B. Norton, MD published in the North American Journal of Homeopathy 1891 This was a Retrospective Study looking at the homeopathic treatment of cataracts in 295 Patients. 100 Patients were under treatment for longer then 3 months. Results: Improvement in 58% of cases, no change in 42% , Slight decrease in 26%, Significant decrease 19%. The best indication of success is the level of vision before treatment. Dr. Norton looked at two groups. Vision better than 15/50 the results were as follows: decided increase in 14%, slight increase in 26%, no increase in 60%. Vision worse than 15/50 the results were as follows: decided increase in 29%, slight increase in 26%, no increase in 45%. So the earlier you treat the cataract the better the results.