Although half the people over age 50 and three-quarters of those over age 75 develop cataracts, the condition isn’t an inevitable part of aging. Recent studies show that certain lifestyle strategies can lessen your chance of developing this serious but treatable vision disorder.
Gradual and painless blurring or dimming of vision.
Increased sensitivity to sun glare or car headlights at night
Seeing halos around lights
Changes in color perception.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you begin to develop cataract symptoms.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
What It Is
The eye’s lens is normally transparent; it refracts and focuses light on the retina, which allows a clear image to form. When the proteins in the lens break down, they clump together and form opaque spots called cataracts. These spots hinder light from being transmitted properly to the retina, and vision becomes cloudy or blurry. The degree of impaired vision depends on the cataract’s size, density, and location on the lens.
What Causes It
Cataracts may develop as a result of age-related body changes; but some experts now think that the majority of cases can be attributed to smoking or to lifetime exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. A low level of antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium) may also be a factor. These compounds can squelch free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules — that can damage the lens. (Normally, the lens has a high concentration of glutathione, an antioxidant produced by the body.) In addition, having diabetes or being overweight increases the risk of cataracts, probably because high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood contribute to the destruction of lens proteins. Injury to the eye can cause cataracts too.
How Supplements Can Help
Taking supplements before a cataract appears may postpone its development or prevent it altogether. In the early stages of a cataract, supplements may slow its growth. Only surgery will remove a cataract, however.
What Else You Can Do
Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; they’re good sources of antioxidants.
Grape Seed Extract
Dosage: 1,000 mg twice a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Dosage: 400 IU a day.
Comments: Check with your doctor if taking anticoagulant drugs.
Dosage: 400 mcg a day.
Comments: Don’t exceed 600 mcg daily; higher doses may be toxic.
Dosage: 80 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides. May be included in nutritional supplement eye formulas.
Dosage: 40 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to have at least 24% flavone glycosides.
Dosage: 150 mg a day.
Comments: Take in the morning with or without food.
Grape Seed Extract
Dosage: 100 mg twice a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain 92%-95% proanthocyanidins.
Dosage: 1 tbsp. (14 grams) a day.
Comments: Can be mixed with food; take in the morning.