Here are some natural interventions that slow down (and sometimes even reverse) cataracts

Image: Here are some natural interventions that slow down (and sometimes even reverse) cataracts

Regardless of your actual age, your eyes are often the last thing that stays young. However, this is only possible if you regularly follow a healthy diet.

Preventing and reversing cataracts

While cataracts are linked to poorer eyesight and even blindness, they are believed to be an inevitable part of aging. However, certain modifiable risk factors and natural interventions may help slow and even reverse this condition.

  1. Curcumin (turmeric extract) – There is significant data that confirms the health benefits of curcumin in the animal model of cataract formation. Study data revealed that curcumin, a highly therapeutic polyphenol that’s responsible for turmeric’s bright yellow color, can help prevent the formation of cataracts.
  2. Don’t use cholesterol-lowering statin drugs – For more than 20 years, data from animal research has determined that statin drugs are linked to cataracts. In the post-marketing surveillance of statin drug users, findings have shown that when taken, “either alone or in combination with other drugs which inhibit their metabolism,” the drugs increase the risk of cataracts in individuals who take them. An identified mechanism for the cataractogenic potential of these drugs is the fact that they can gain systemic distribution in the body, which happens when they pass through the blood-brain-barrier and enter the eye itself, specifically, the outer cortical region of the lens where cholesterol synthesis is critical. This mechanism is responsible for the damage in the lens. (Related: 8 Eye issues you can’t afford to ignore.)
  3. Lutein – According to a two-year double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, lutein can help improve visual function in individuals with age-related cataracts. Sources of lutein include egg yolks, kale, and marigold.
  4. Wheatgrass – Data from a 2005 study, which was titled “Aging reversibility: from thymus graft to vegetable extract treatment — application to cure an age-associated pathology” and published in the journal Biogerontology, wheatgrass can potentially reverse lens opacity linked to cataracts. Researchers explained that for the study, the lens opacity of old dogs who received oral dosages of wheatgrass for one month was measured before and after the treatment. The results revealed that there was a 25 to 40 percent reduction of lens opacity. The study authors posited that the wheat sprouts can help in “the recovery of age-related alterations and in treating age-associated pathologies” because they contain “regulatory acid peptides, a remarkable level of highly energetic phosphoric radicals and antioxidant molecules. These compounds in wheatgrass can potentially help reduce lens opacity.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are dense and cloudy areas that can form in the lens of your eye. A cataract often develops when proteins in your eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to your retina.

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The retina works by turning the light that comes through the lens into signals. The signals are then sent to the optic nerve, which is finally sent to the brain.

A cataract forms slowly and in time, it will interfere with your vision. You might get cataracts in both eyes, but they rarely form simultaneously.

Older people often develop cataracts. The National Eye Institute reports that more than 50 percent of individuals in the U.S. have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery the moment they turn 80 years old.

Some common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision in the affected eye
  • Frequently needing changes in prescription glasses
  • Halos surrounding lights
  • Increased sensitivity to glare
  • Trouble seeing at night

Some underlying causes of cataracts may include:

  • Certain diseases (e.g., diabetes)
  • The long-term use of steroids and other medications
  • Radiation therapy
  • Smoking
  • Trauma
  • Ultraviolet radiation

Don’t wait until your eyesight starts to worsen. Follow a healthy diet today to delay and maybe even reverse your cataracts.

Find more ways of taking care of your eyes naturally at

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Green, leafy vegetables can decrease your risk of glaucoma by 20%

Image: Green, leafy vegetables can decrease your risk of glaucoma by 20%

Research provides another reason for you to eat more leafy greens: They prevent the onset of a serious eye disease called glaucoma. In a study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers suggested that eating green leafy vegetables every day may cut one’s risk of glaucoma by 20 to 30 percent over many years.

Glaucoma is an eye problem that typically occurs when fluid in the front part of the eye increases and causes pressure, which in turn damages the optic nerve. This condition can result in loss of vision.

For the study, the research team followed about 64,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1984 to 2012. They also followed over 41,000 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 2014. The participants were all aged 40 and above and did not have glaucoma at the start of the study. They had eye exams every two years.

Throughout the follow-up period, nearly 1,500 participants developed glaucoma. To determine whether diet played a role in the onset of the eye disease, the research team evaluated the diet, particularly the consumption of green leafy vegetables, of the participants. Then, they grouped the participants into five according to how much green leafy vegetables they consumed. Those who consumed the most amount of green leafy vegetables averaged about 1.5 servings a day, or approximately one and a half cups each day; while those who ate the least amount averaged about one serving every three days.

Although there was an association between consuming more leafy greens and a lower risk of glaucoma, it did not prove cause and effect. However, study leader Jae Kang explained that green leafy vegetables contain nitrates, which are precursors to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays a key role in regulating blood flow to the eye, and in glaucoma, there is an impairment of blood flow to the optic nerve. As an individual eats more leafy greens, the levels of nitric oxide in the body also increase.

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Kang is an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Preventing glaucoma with diet

Earlier research has suggested that eating the right foods may help cut the risk of glaucoma, prevent the disease, and help keep eyesight healthy for many years. The study, published in the Archives of the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology, assessed the diets of people in two American ophthalmological studies, and in a study from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

These large population studies found that consumption of foods rich in retinol, which is a form of vitamin A, helps lower the risk of glaucoma. However, there was no evidence that a diet rich in dietary fats promote the development of glaucoma, although too much fat intake is generally known to cause obesity and cardiovascular disease.

As the researchers dug deeper, they observed a link between lower rates of glaucoma and greater intake of leafy green vegetables, especially cabbage, carrots, fruits, and fruit juices, especially orange-colored fruits like peaches and apricots. In addition, the Spanish study suggested consuming flavonol-rich foods, such as green tea, dark chocolate, coffee (without sugar and little cream), and regular black tea. However, those who already have well-established cases of glaucoma should consume little or no caffeine because it can increase intraocular pressure and worsen the disease. (Related: Reduce glaucoma risk by drinking more green tea.)

In the study, the researchers provided a set of guidelines for lowering glaucoma risk:

  1. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  2. Patients with hypertensive glaucoma should not consume too much salt.
  3. Avoid high-calorie diets to prevent body fat increase.
  4. Try eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish and nut as they seem to reduce risk.
  5. Drink small amounts of liquid throughout the day. Don’t drink large amounts in one shot.
  6. Drink red wine and green tea and eat dark chocolate moderately.
  7. If you already have glaucoma, do not consume caffeinated drinks.

Read more news stories and studies on foods that keep the eyes healthy by going to

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Eye Twitching: 4 Reasons Your Eye Has No Chill

No, sir, I am not winking at you.
Vector eye twitching on yellow background

It’s a feeling so subtle, yet so annoying. You’re minding your own business when suddenly your eye starts twitching. While you probably just write it off as one of those things, there are actually a few reasons why eye twitching can crop up—and it doesn’t just happen to you.

“This is very common,” Mark Blecher, M.D., eye surgeon and codirector of Wills Eye Hospital Primary Eye Care, tells SELF. When it feels like your eye is twitching, it’s actually your eyelid muscle (known as the orbicularis oculi) that’s spasming, Dr. Blecher explains. “It can happen several times in a row and then stops, and for some people it can happen again later on that same day,” he says.

There’s actually a technical term for this—myokymia—and it happens due to misfiring of neurons in your eyelid muscle, JP Maszczak, O.D., assistant professor of clinical optometry at the Ohio State University College of Optometry, tells SELF. “This is typically a benign condition around one eye that most people will deal with on at least a few occasions throughout their lifetime,” he says.

Of course, eye twitching can strike at the worst moments and it’s probably not the look you’re going for on a regular basis. So then it’s understandable that you’d want to try to keep future eyelid spasms at bay. Here are the most common reasons for eye twitching, plus what you can do to lower your risk of developing it again.

1. You have an eyelid infection.

Eyelid inflammation, which often happens due to a condition called blepharitis, is a big cause of eye twitching, says Dr. Blecher. Blepharitis often happens when bacteria gets into your eyelids, causing inflammation and redness, which makes your muscles twitchy, he explains. If you’re suffering from blepharitis, he recommends taking a washcloth, wetting it with hot water, and holding it over your eye for a few minutes a few times a day. “That can go a long way toward making things better and stopping the twitching,” Dr. Blecher says.

2. You’re stressed out.

You’re up against a crazy work deadline and suddenly your eyelid starts acting weird. While super annoying, this is also totally normal. Stress causes a release of adrenergic chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, triggering your body’s fight or flight response, John Hovanesian, M.D., an eye surgeon at Harvard Eye Associatesin Laguna Hills, California, tells SELF. “These can cause muscles to be more sensitive and irritable than usual,” he says. Unfortunately, any sort of stress, whether it’s chronic or sudden can cause your eyelid to spasm, says Dr. Blecher

3. You had too much caffeine or chocolate.

The caffeine in coffee and chocolate can cause hyperactivity of the nerves and muscles around the eyelid, leading to eyelid twitching. “I definitely see more benign eyelid twitching right after Valentine’s Day because someone ate too much chocolate,” says Amy Zimmerman, M.D., an ophthalmologist with Katzen Eye Group. Luckily, Dr. Zimmerman says the random twitching should go away once you cut back on your caffeine intake. Anything that stimulates your nervous system will predispose you to eye twitching, Dr. Blecher says, but it doesn’t happen in everyone. So if you know that you’re prone to getting a twitchy eye after you have too much caffeine, it’s best to watch how much you have in the future.

4. You’re super tired.

When you’re wiped out, your sympathetic nervous system, which controls a lot of your involuntary activities, kicks into high gear. And, as a result, your eyelid might start twitching. “For some reason it gets worse the more fatigued you are,” Dr. Zimmerman says. The easiest way to resolve it is by getting more sleep, she says, which may be easier said than done.

Most cases of eyelid twitching don’t need to be evaluated by a doctor, Dr. Maszczak says. But, if the spasming worsens and includes one side of your face or cause your eyelids to close involuntarily, you should call your eye doctor, he says—it could be a sign of a corneal abrasion, dry eyes, or a neurological condition. Most of the time, eye twitching will stop within one to two weeks, but if it’s severe and unrelenting, Botox injections may be helpful, Dr. Maszczak says.

If you experience random eyelid twitching, take a beat and think about what could be causing it. It could be your body’s way of telling you it’s time to de-stress, cut back on the caffeine, or call it an early night tonight—or all three.

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