I stopped Cataracts Dead!

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I stopped Cataracts Dead!

I lost sight in my left eye to nuclear cataract and had to wait 12 months for surgery. (As long as I had sight in my right eye, I was not in an emergency situation.) Then I noticed my right eye had the beginning symptoms of central cataract. My vision dropped to 20/25 (80 per cent).

This was preposterous! I am an optometrist with a holistic practice in preventive therapy! Each of my patients is given a diet which screens for the intake of refined carbohydrates, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and additives. I also test blood pressure and pulse to determine the level of cardiovascular and muscle fitness. My diet guidelines are live food and vitamins C, E, A and B-complex and colloidal minerals. It was totally unfair that I should get cataracts!

But soon I had unstable vision. My 80 per cent vision would remain clear for the first 20 minutes of reading and then the blur would wipe out the print. I exercised my eyes with deep blinks and vigorous movements in all directions. My vision would return, but I knew it was only a matter of time until I couldn't read the newspaper at all. That day arrived. My cataract surgery was still far away -- I faced months as a visually impaired person.

Natural Break

The break came when my family changed physicians because our doctor was leaving his practice. Our new MD prescribes herbal products. He has a doctorate in the nutritional approach to cancer. His own diet includes ginseng, garlic, ginger, echinacea (for infection), pycnogenol (which contains grape seed extracts), selenium coenzyme, pine tree extract, beta-carotene and vitamins, and minerals. He also recommends bilberry for eye disorders.

Bilberry belongs to the family of the blueberry, native to both Europe and North America. The active ingredient is anthrocyanoside, which enhances the circulation in the small blood vessels. Pilots in Britain during the war used it to enhance night vision. There are reports that it is also useful for glaucoma and macular degeneration. My experience with this product is that it has an affinity for lens tissue.

When I began to research the herbal remedies my doctor recommended, I tested each product. I began with ginseng and found no change in vision. I added ginkgo biloba, then ginger, then garlic and still no change. I took two capsules of bilberry morning and evening -- my vision improved almost immediately. This stopped cataract dead in its tracks! The vision in my right eye remained clear and stable until cataract surgery returned my left eye to 20/20.

It is usual to operate on the second eye after six months. This decision was delayed indefinitely by the surgeon, because my right eye was no longer on the danger list.

An Eye on Research

During my personal experience with cataract, I scanned both the alternative and the medical literature and I found that medical literature was weak on prevention. The Ophthalmolgic Society mentions the possibility of antioxidants as being helpful, but doesn't recognize them as proven.

Thomas R. Shearer of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin is one of the leaders in the physiology of cataract formation.

"Opaque cataracts in the lens are the third leading cause of blindness," he says. "However, no one knows the biochemical reasons why cataracts form. Our research is investigating the changes in lens proteins to determine the role of calcium in the process."

Dr Shearer and his team found that the enzyme calpain is responsible for hydrolyzing calcium. Animal research with this enzyme is now involved in the quest for understanding the biology of cataract formation.

I believe I was a candidate for cataract because I spend summers on my sailboat on Lake Chaplain and winters skiing in the Laurentians -- I have had a lifetime of major exposure to sunlight reflected off the snow and water. Although a certain amount of sunlight is necessary for eye health, I've learned my lesson. Now I wear a wide-brimmed hat and my ultraviolet-absorbing glasses when I know I'll be outside for an extended time.

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By A.J. Kirshner

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