Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cataracts


Clear Your Vision Naturally



As most of you will know, it is usual to be born with lenses in our eyes. Just like lenses in eyeglasses, the lenses in our eyes help to refract the light entering the eyes to assist with vision. The lens changes shape to adjust the refraction, like the lens on a photographic camera. It has an elastic, flexible form that adjusts in size to accommodate for near and far vision. Some of this elasticity is lost as one ages, but it is controversial whether this affects eyesight or not. Several older people with myopia (shortsightedness) have told me lately that their eyesight has been improving with age (without any effort on their part). Unfortunately, this may be a symptom of cataracts, the topic of this article.

In an effort to understand the medical condition of cataracts better, I have put together some findings here.  Through understanding comes power to improve and correct malfunctions.


Medical Term

I think it is important to point out that cataracts is a medical name for lenses that have a particular malfunction. Cataracts are not growths that can be removed from the lens. Not everyone develops cataracts, even as they age.

Cataract is a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision. Some refer to this as a clouding of the lens and it can lead to blindness. It is a widespread problem in the world and growing (despite all our medical knowledge and treatments), especially for people over the age of 40. There are three different types of cataracts as follows:

When someone develops better near vision in later life, it may be a possible symptom of nuclear cataracts. The deterioration starts and stems from deep within the center of the lens.  This is referred to as “second-sight” until the cataracts enlarge and interfere with sight.

Another type of cataract occurs at the back of the lens and has been associated with people who have diabetes or take high doses of steroid medications. It is fittingly called subcapsular cataracts.

When there are white, wedge-like opacities in the periphery of the lens, also known as the cortex, this is referred to as cortical cataracts. These cataracts develop in a spoke-like fashion to the center.


Lens in the Eye

A healthy lens is transparent. It lets in light. The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil and directs light onto the retina. The shape of the lens is described as ellipsoid and biconvex. However, it is constantly changing. It also continues to change and grow throughout one’s lifetime.



Protein is an important substance in the lens. Approximately 90% of this protein is water soluble yet structural and it is called crystallins. The transparency of this substance increases the refractive index. Crystallins are thought to have metabolic and regulatory functions as well and appear in other parts of the body. These proteins have been characterized as calcium binding proteins (see Caffeine Allergy article referenced below and in particular the link for Lawrence Wilson in that article for information on calcium function).


Protein Structure of the Lens

Cataracts develop to a great extent due to a malfunctioning of the proteins in the lens which when healthy, provide a protective function. It is said that this protein “builds up” and causes the lens to become opaque. Normally this protein obtains a three dimensional structure from a long chain of amino acids with the aid of so-called chaperones. When this folding process fails time and time again, the result is a tangle of dysfunctional proteins. This results in cataracts.


Nutrition

The lens receives its nourishment from the aqueous humor, a watery fluid. This fluid is clear and like plasma, but contains low protein concentrations. “The lens itself lacks nerves, blood vessels, or connective tissue.”

Nutrients diffuse in and waste diffuses out through a constant flow of aqueous humor from the anterior/posterior poles of the lens and out of the equatorial regions. This dynamic is maintained by Na+/K+-ATPase pumps located in the lens epithelium which the circulation model predicts is greatest at the lens equator.

The Na+/K+-ATPase pump is an enzyme. I wrote about this in my Simple Food Remedies blog (reference below for Sugar is Dehydrating). Basically, these pumps maintain homeostasis of the cell, enable energy to be utilized and cells to perform at peak level.

The epithelium is a thin outer layer of tissue which is found on the anterior side of the lens only. Not only does is serve to nourish the lens, it also produces new lens fibers which are long, thin, transparent cells that stretch across the lens.

Glucose is the primary energy source for the lens. Mature lens fibers do not have mitochondria to produce ATP by oxidization. Therefore, the majority of the glucose is done via anaerobic metabolism with the remaining being shunted down the pentose phosphate pathway (which I won’t go into to keep matters simpler).

“The lack of aerobic respiration means that the lens consumes very little oxygen.” (Biochemistry of the Eye). This makes claims that oxidative stress is a factor in cataract development suspect. It also means that nutritional claims of eating antioxidants such as vitamin C are most likely ineffective, at least directly.

The Na+/K+ ATPase pump is reliant on energy from the hydrolysis ofAdenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP).  “ATP exists in cells normally as a chelate of ATP and a magnesium ion.”  This is evidence that “many of the same factors that can result in a magnesium deficiency can cause dehydration as well.”  One substance that can cause this imbalance is refined white sugar which I previously wrote about in an article called Sugar is Dehydrating (link is below). Another such substance is caffeine (see Caffeine Allergy, below).

I have been asked whether garlic will aid to prevent or reverse cataracts. Garlic is well known for its antiseptic properties. As bacteria can cause stress to the eyes, in this sense garlic is good for eye health. Eating garlic raw is the best way to obtain this benefit.


Sun Scare

A popular story is that the sun contributes to cataracts. This is similar to the story that the sun causes skin cancer. Believe these if you will, but for the most part, common sense and some research contradict both these findings.

Of course if one gets too much sun and burns their skin on a regular basis, the risk of skin disease increases. Too much sun on the eyes will damage them too. Children are more vulnerable. However, we are designed to live on this planet without using sunglasses. The lens is designed to block ultraviolet light in the wavelength range of 300–400nm; shorter wavelengths are blocked by the cornea.

Not only does wearing sunglasses alter one’s vision, it will make the eyes less resilient. In other words, one will need to wear sunglasses if they are worn enough. Similarly, if one never goes out in the sun, one will need to build up slowly with short exposures to stay out longer without getting sunburned.

Meanwhile, if you have cataract surgery and artificial lenses (called intraocular lenses (IOL)) inserted, these plastic lenses will be coated with a substance to block the longer UV rays. Otherwise, after cataract surgery, sunglasses would be advisable to replace the sun filtering job that used to be done by the eye’s natural lenses.

One renowned ophthalmologist, William Bates, recommended that one get as much sun on the eyes as possible for improving vision. Another author, John N. Ott,  did research and showed how sunlight affects and improves health in general. Both of these views support the view that blocking sunlight from the eyes and avoiding the sun in general are not good advice for good health.


Stress

A word about stress is in order to this discussion. Stress is a wear and tear factor. It can slowly degrade the body’s ability to function. Specific stress on the eyes can contribute to the formation of cataracts. Sources of stress can be from inside, such as diet, emotions and tiredness, and from outside, such as pollen, perfumes, driving, and using computers, etc.

Evaluate your lifestyle to minimise stressors to the eyes. However, eye yoga is a good way to combat most forms of stress to the eyes. For some tips, please see my article about natural eye treatment (The Eyes Have It) and the book called Eye Yoga referenced below.

  
Conclusion

The lenses in our eyes are designed to last a lifetime. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in whether one will get cataracts or not just as it is important with most health issues. Sugars and caffeine in the diet can be contributing factors to developing cataracts. Medications can also contribute to damaging the lenses of the eyes. Weakening of the eyes by wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses can make the eyes more vulnerable to disease generally and cataracts in particular. Once an artificial replacement is made, natural cures will be less effective.

Natural eye care with an appropriate diet and some rest, relaxation and exercises will keep the eyes bright and clear.



References

A Magnesium Deficit & Dehydration by Lynne Sheldon, Livestrong.com, Jan 16, 2016,http://www.livestrong.com/article/465606-a-magnesium-deficit-dehydration/#ixzz2c2483uFP


Caffeine Allergy, by Jennifer Wilson, Simple Food Remedies, December 21, 2011, http://simplefoodremedies.blogspot.com/search?q=lawrence+wilson

The Cure of Imperfect Sight By Treatment Without Glasses, by William Bates, in pdf, original 1920 version available to download free: http://cleareyesight-batesmethod.info/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/thecureofimperfectsight.pdf

Biochemistry of the Eye, 2nd ed, p. 107–8, ISBN 0-7506-7152-1 (from Wiki)

Caffeine is Dehydrating Except for Coca Cola, Martians & the Similarly Minded by Jennifer Wilson, Aug. 12, 2013, Simple Food Remedies blog, http://simplefoodremedies.blogspot.com/2013/08/caffeine-is-dehydrating-except-for-coca.html

Cataracts, by Gretchyn Bailey; reviewed by Vance Thompson, MD, http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/cataracts.htm


The Cure of Imperfect Sight By Treatment Without Glasses, by William H. Bates, in pdf, original 1920 version available to download free: http://cleareyesight-batesmethod.info/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/thecureofimperfectsight.pdf

The Eyes Have It - How to Care for Eyes Naturally by Jennifer Wilson, Simple Food Remedies blog, December 22, 2015, http://simplefoodremedies.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-eyes-have-it-how-to-care-for-eyes.html

 Eye Yoga, How You See Is How You Think, by Jane Rigney Battenburg and Martha Rigney, https://www.amazon.com/Eye-Yoga-How-You-Think/dp/1934938750 

Health and Light: The extraordinary Study that Shows How light Affects Your Health and emotional well being, by John N. Ott, https://www.amazon.com/Health-Light-extraordinary-Affects-emotional/dp/0898040981


IOL Implants: Lens Replacement and Cataract Surgery by: Kierstan Boyd, reviewed by: Elizabeth Yeu MD, Nov. 16, 2016, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/cataracts-iol-implants




Natural Treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma & Cancer in General, by Jennifer Wilson, Simple Food Remedies Blog, September 20, 2011, http://simplefoodremedies.blogspot.com/2011/09/natural-treatment-for-non-hodgkins.html

Sugar is Dehydrating by Jennifer Wilson, Simple Food Remedies blog, Tuesday, 20 August 2013 http://simplefoodremedies.blogspot.com/2013/08/sugar-is-dehydrating.html

Structure of protective protein in the eye lens revealed, July 31, 2009 https://phys.org/news/2009-07-protein-eye-lens-revealed.html