Cataracts - an opaque buildup of damaged proteins in the lens of the eye - are the leading cause of visual decline in those over 65. In fact, most people in that age group have at least the beginings of cataract formation. Many factors contribute to the development of cataracts, but damage by free radicals is believed to play a major role. Cataracts can be removed surgically. Although this has become a relatively quick, safe, easy, and painless surgery, it does not result in completely normal vision. Clearly, preventing cataracts, if possible, would be preferable.

Principal natural treatments
Evidence suggests that varios antioxidants may help prevent cataracts. Such as: Vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenes. In studies, lutein (found in dark-green vegetables) seemed to be especially helpful for women, whereas the carotenes found in carrots was more helpful in men. Lycopene, a carotene found in tomatoes, was associated with a reduced occurrence of cataracts in both sexes.

Other natural treatments
Herbs high in antioxidant flavonoids may also be helpful in protecting against cataract. The ones most commonly mentioned include bilberry, ginkgo, OPCs, and turmeric. However, of these, only bilberry has any direct evidence in its favor, and that evidence is weak. Bilberry is a commonly eaten food and as such is believed to be safe, although safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established. The supplements zinc, riboflavin or vitamin B2, cysteine, lipoic acid, selenium, taurine, and sometimes mentioned as helpful for preventing cataracts, but the evidence that they really work is not yet strong.

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