When I started out as an eye surgeon, I felt there wasn’t any disease I couldn’t repair by cutting and putting it all back together again.
My philosophy changed when a severe case of asthma caused traditional Western doctors to give up. Homeopathy completely cured my condition. I’ve been integrating alternative therapy since then, as I strongly feel that alternative treatments and looking at the underlying cause should be the first approach to any eye disease.
If you’re worried you might be at risk for cataracts, talk with your doctor. Ask if there’s anything you can do to lower your risk.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding or darkening of the lens in the eye. The lens is responsible for focusing light on the retina, giving you good, sharp vision. This clouding interferes with your eyesight, and it is usually a slow progression. In most cases, it doesn’t cause any pain. A cataract is like a red warning light. When a red warning light comes on, you don’t unplug it or turn it off. You want to find out what is wrong. Those of you who are developing a cataract need to identify the underlying cause. What is wrong? Correct that, and you take some essential steps to reverse the cataract.
The traditional treatment that Western ophthalmologists do is to remove the cataract. They don’t look at the underlying cause. They insert a plastic lens to take the place of the natural human lens. You’ve been hearing all sorts of things about the dangers of plastic. I think it is a potential problem to put a plastic device inside your eye. Although rare, there are complications like infection, loss of vision, corneal swelling, glaucoma, and, interestingly, an increased incidence of macular degeneration.
There is a published five-year study looking at the incidence of macular degeneration in a group of people who had cataracts and cataract surgery. The study demonstrated that there was a threefold increase in macular degeneration after cataract surgery. This statistic is shocking. Most eye doctors, including myself at one time, thought, “The person is just getting older. They’re going to develop macular degeneration anyway.” This is false. Cataract surgery puts you at risk for another condition that can ruin your vision.
I’m not totally against cataract surgery, however. In some situations, you should have cataract surgery—once it has advanced to the point where it is severely obstructing your vision. But in most cases, when the cataract is at an earlier stage, you should consider the alternative treatments I’m going to talk about. Some of the essentials to treat cataracts include improving nutrition and hydration, reducing stress, and detoxifying lead.
Nutrition and Hydration
Physiologically, when you develop a cataract, researchers have found that ascorbic acid and glutathione levels decrease in the aqueous humor that surrounds the cataract. If these protective antioxidant compounds are decreased, then we need to replenish them in the body to help slow the progression of the cataract, or in some cases reverse it.
You need to eat spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsley, avocado, asparagus, grapefruit, strawberries and milk thistle. These foods are rich in glutathione and should be part of your diet if you want to treat and reverse cataracts.
There are some doctors who feel that cataracts may be related to focal scurvy. We don’t see scurvy anymore in our country because people are getting small amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C is even found in cereal now. Focal scurvy is a localized deficiency of vitamin C and can be related to periodontal disease, arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis, and some doctors believe it’s related to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Focal scurvy in the eye produces a cataract. If you have a cataract, increase the daily amount of vitamin C that you take.
Quercetin is another dietary product that inhibits lens opacification. This was studied in an organ-cultured model of the cataract. It also inhibits hydrogen peroxide-induced cataracts. Quercetin has been shown to prevent the progression of cataracts and is found in apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous and leafy vegetables, and citrus fruit.
Rutin is a bioflavonoid, and it’s been found to be highly beneficial in fighting cataracts. It’s nice because it works synergistically hand in hand with vitamin C and quercetin. Rutin is found in buckwheat amaranth leaves, elderflower tea, apple peel, unfermented rooibos tea, and figs.
More important are foods to avoid. White sugar is first on the list. The American diet is excessive in terms of white sugar. Another concern is corn fructose. The additional danger in high-fructose corn syrup comes from its origin in genetically modified corn. There are also sucrose and fruit juice concentrate. All these sugars help the cataract grow. In addition to being linked to cataracts, they cause other health issues like diabetes and obesity.
Proper hydration is essential. Your body needs a lot of water to detoxify itself. If you’re not drinking enough water, toxins will accumulate and cause adverse changes in your body such as cataracts. Whatever you weigh, I recommend that you cut that number in half and drink that many ounces of water every day. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, MD, in his book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, felt that by drinking plenty of water, most chronic diseases could be cured.
Water is our friend. The only problem is where to find a good source of water. We know we should stay away from public water because of dissolved toxins. Pharmaceuticals are now found in water if you can believe that. Antibiotics, hormones, and hypertensive medicines are all commonly present. We used to think that drinking water from plastic bottles was healthy. Now we’re finding out that they release phthalates and benzene derivatives into the water that are extremely toxic. Not to mention the obscene environmental cost of even BPA-free bottles. Some estimates suggest plastic waste will outweigh fish in our oceans by 2050.
I’m a big advocate of reverse osmosis as a fairly inexpensive clean drinking-water solution. For a couple hundred dollars, you can get a unit installed underneath your kitchen sink. There are other systems out there, but I would investigate to see which one fits your budget.
It’s important to balance the autonomic nervous system. The “fight or flight” response occurs when your body is in a stressed state. It’s like you’re running away from a grizzly bear. Your pupils dilate, your heart races, and your breathing changes. The digestive process is shut down in your body, and your body’s ability to heal will slow or stop, directing its energy instead to increased focus and agility in the face of imminent danger. It is critical, if you want to reverse any disease in your body, to reduce stress. In our society, this is often extremely difficult to do.
Ways to reduce stress include physical exercise, meditation, prayer, and positive affirmations. In our practice, we use microcurrent stress therapies and light therapies to help. Pick something you like—be it meditation or a daily run—and focus on that to reduce your stress. If you reduce your stress, your body will heal.
Get the Lead Out
There was a study done out of Harvard University that linked low-level lead exposure to the development of cataracts. There’s no question all of us have been exposed to lead. When I was growing up, we had leaded gasoline, leaded paint, and lead pencils. It’s in our environment, water, and food. I believe this is the biggest contributing factor to the development of cataracts, so we need to be tested for heavy metals.
The only accurate way to read your body’s lead level is a six-hour urine provocative test. You could be dying of lead poisoning, and your urine would be negative for lead. Why? Your body knows that it is toxic and removes it from your bloodstream. The lead goes into your bone, brain, eyes, muscle, and fat. To get a reading you need to take a substance to make that lead soluble. This is called a chelating agent. Then you collect your urine for six hours. This is the gold standard with integrative doctors across the country. A hair analysis is not accurate and I would not advise using one for lead-level testing.
The best way to remove the lead is chelation therapy. Robert Rowen, MD, the editor of the newsletter Second Opinion, stated that one intravenous (IV) EDTA chelation a month can prevent cataracts, and I agree with him. The IV therapy consists of an administration of a chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). This is a molecule that goes into the blood, binds the lead, and makes it water soluble so it can be excreted in the urine. In addition to IV, you can do rectal suppositories of EDTA or use oral and topical forms. There are many ways of administering EDTA to treat elevated lead. The ACAM.org. the website has a listing of doctors near you who do these therapies.
What happens if nothing is done about high lead levels? A half-life is how many years it would take your body to naturally eliminate a substance. The half-life of lead is 99 years. That means in 99 years, half the lead in your body will be gone. You need to do something to get rid of this lead.
I am often asked if there are good over-the-counter eye drops for cataracts. The two most popular ones are Can-C and Cineraria Maritima. I have found both eye drops can help with preventing the progression of cataracts. I have not seen these eye drops reverse cataracts.
However, I am interested in reversing cataracts and improving vision, and there are two prescription eye drops that can do this. The first one is OcluMed. The second is an eye drop developed by Dr. Rowen. His is a mixture of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), ascorbic acid, and glutathione to replenish reduced levels of these vital antioxidants.
The problem with the DMSO eye drop is that it must be made by a compounding pharmacist. The FDA is currently cracking down on compounding pharmacists, and patients find that it is more and more difficult to get this eye drop made. That is why I have recently been recommending OcluMed.
OcluMed has an effective combination of ingredients to help reverse cataracts. One is L-carnosine, which immediately neutralizes existing free radicals. N-acetyl-L-carnosine provides long-term protection because it lasts longer in the cells. This eye drop also has glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the lens; cysteine ascorbate, which is a water-stable source of vitamin C; and L-cysteine, another very important antioxidant. We need to get the glutathione and ascorbic acid to the lens in high concentrations to reverse the cataract. The last ingredient is L-cysteine, which is used to regenerate or reduce the oxidized form of L-glutathione in the eye.
The bottom line is that when confronted by the early signs of cataracts, you should not resign yourself to waiting for them to progress to the point where surgery is your only option. Find an ophthalmologist who can guide you through a natural protocol and see your vision improve.
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