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Can You Cure Cataracts Naturally Without Surgery?

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There are no nonsurgical options for removing cataracts. Nonsurgical options can, at best, mitigate the effects of cataracts, but only surgery can remove them once and for all. 

You can stave cataracts off by having regular eye exams, not smoking, and protecting your eyes. But you can’t completely prevent them since they are often a natural part of the aging process. Without surgical treatment, cataracts can cloud your sight to the point of completely losing your vision.

young woman with cataracts

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are clumps of inactive, inert proteins that settle on the lens of the eye. Cataracts can blur vision, making it difficult to drive a car, read, or see in low-light conditions. 

They are a normal development as the eyes age, and they usually start off as a mild inconvenience around age 40 that can be addressed with eyeglasses and stronger lighting. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to significant problems with vision and quality of life.

Cataracts are usually addressed through a quick and simple surgical procedure. It is a common and effective surgery that is widely viewed as safe. 

Cataracts cannot be cured, treated, or reversed without surgery. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any nonsurgical remedy for cataracts, and neither has any other established regulatory body for medical procedures.

Can You Treat Cataracts Without Surgery?

No, not effectively.

Some research has been conducted on the topic of whether cataracts can be addressed without the need for surgery. For example, a 2015 paper published in the Science journal discussed Compound 29, a water-soluble compound that showed some success in reversing the effects of cataracts related to genes and age, in human lens tissue that was removed during cataract surgery. Further studies on mice, however, unearthed limitations on whether Compound 29 could be used on humans. 

Similarly, another compound called lanosterol has been floated as a potential nonsurgical solution to cataracts, but testing has found that lanosterol is insufficiently water-soluble to be dispensed in an eye drop solution. 

man using eyedropper on left eye

Even scientists who are studying nonsurgical options for treating cataracts warn that their results, though encouraging, are not enough to swing the pendulum of the current standard of care for cataract treatment (surgery) in another direction. 

Additionally, those scientists also concede that while there should be investigations into nonsurgical options for cataract treatment, surgery is still a very good option for most patients. The procedure is straightforward, and the implantation of the intraocular lens means that patients will never have cataracts again and could also have better vision than they did before the surgery if they opt for a lens that corrects refractive errors. 

Prevention of Cataracts

Do natural cures for cataracts exist? While there is no natural “cure” for cataracts, and the development of cataracts is inevitable for most people, ophthalmologists note that there are beneficial lifestyle practices that can slow the onset of cataracts or mitigate their effects.

Eye Exams

Get regular eye exams to detect cataracts early and treat them before they become a significant problem.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Heavy alcohol use and smoking can increase the chances of developing cataracts, so cutting down on unhealthy activities can delay the development of cataracts. 

A diet rich in vitamins and minerals has been found to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, so aim to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

Eye Protection

Exposure to ultraviolet light can lead to the formation of cataracts, so protect your eyes by avoiding harsh lighting and wearing sunglasses that guard against UV rays. 

Prescription Medication

Certain prescription medications may affect the likelihood of developing cataracts. Talk with your doctor if you meet any criteria for increased cataract risk and if you are taking any medication or need to switch medicines.

Can Natural Products ‘Cure’ Cataracts?

There are no eye drops that can cure cataracts. Doctors and researchers are looking at different proteins that, if they penetrate the cornea, can be used to break up cataracts so they do not obscure vision. However, these methods are still in their hypothetical stage, and to date, the only accepted and vetted treatment for cataracts remains surgery. 

Some websites may claim that their naturopathic products can slow the progression of cataracts, but no peer-reviewed studies have found evidence that cataracts, once formed, can be slowed. 

The healthy lifestyle changes described above can stave off the formation of cataracts, but cataracts are a natural problem that comes with age and genetics, and there is a degree to which they may be inevitable.

What if I Don’t Do Anything?

Cataracts are a natural occurrence, and their formation does not mean that you have a serious eye condition. However, in most cases, untreated cataracts will get worse and gradually impede the ability to perform daily and important tasks. 

For most patients, not treating their cataracts could culminate in becoming legally blind, or even totally blind, because the reduction in their vision will increase over time. Untreated cataracts can also become hyper-mature, which means that an otherwise straightforward cataract surgery may not be able to remove them. Hyper-mature cataracts can also cause complications during surgery, so it is in your best interest to get cataract surgery sooner rather than later. 

Generally, your eye doctor will monitor the progression of your cataract and inform you when surgery is needed.

Surgery as the Standard

Untreated cataracts can cause blindness, and this blindness can be reversed. Surgery and the implantation of an intraocular lens can restore sight to someone who has lost their vision because of untreated cataracts. 

Again, this is not a straightforward procedure at this point. Removing cataracts after they have become hyper-mature to the point of causing blindness is difficult, and it comes with higher complication rates than if cataracts are removed in their early stages. 

The most effective way to deal with cataracts is to get surgery for them before they cause any significant loss of vision. Cataract surgery is quick and safe, and the implantation of an intraocular lens means that you will never have to worry about cataracts on that lens again.

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