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Cataract is a cloudiness in the lens of the eye caused by damage to the protein of the lens. This damage impairs vision.
Most people who live long enough will develop cataracts.1 Cataracts are more likely to occur in those who smoke, have diabetes, or are exposed to excessive sunlight. All of these factors lead to oxidative damage. Oxidative damage to the lens of the eye appears to cause cataracts in animals2 and people.3
It is unlikely that any nutritional supplements or herbs can reverse existing cataracts, although it is possible they might help prevent cataracts from becoming worse.
Cataracts usually develop slowly without any pain or redness of the eye. The most common symptoms of a cataract are fuzzy or blurred vision, increasing need for light when reading or doing other close work, visual disturbances caused by bright lights (e.g., sunlight, car headlights), faded color perception, poor night vision, and frequent need to change eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. A cataract will not spread from one eye to the other, although many people develop cataracts in both eyes.
Obese men are significantly more likely to develop a cataract than are men of normal body weight.4 To date, most,5, 6, 7, 8 but not all,9, 10 population studies have found an increased risk of cataracts as body mass increases.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.