Many of my patients are 60 plus, which is the age when cataracts may start to form in one or both eyes. The news from your eye doctor of having a cataract can be very anxiety producing as it always carries with it the dread of “surgery-down-the road”. However, surgery doesn’t have to be the answer. There is a completely natural treatment for cataracts that has been around for a few decades that your eye doctor may not have told you about. This treatment has garnered more attention lately with new research findings about its proven success rate in animal studies. As you know, I’m all about trying the natural route first, so let me tell you about an amazingly promising treatment for cataracts – carnosine.
Cataract Causes and Treatment
Cataracts, simply stated, result from free radical damage on the lens of your eyes. These reactive oxygen species (ROS) cause the proteins in the lens of your eyes to “glycate” and cause cross-linking of the proteins, which then form clumps. These clumps are the cloudy cataracts that cause eyesight problems and, in advanced stages, can cause blindness. Glare starts to bother you more and night driving can become impaired from “starring” of lights and loss of color acuity. Your visual picture just blurs in general. Not enough antioxidants, too much UV sunlight, decreasing melatonin as you age, deficiency in specific eye-health vitamins, use of certain medications – all these things could contribute to the development of your cataracts. Now what options do you have?
A popular treatment for cataracts is surgery. In fact it is the most commonly performed surgery in older people, with 25% of the U.S. population over 65 having vision loss from cataracts. Cataract surgery can involve removing the cataract lens and replacing it with a synthetic lens, or removing the cataract with a laser. Of course, cataract surgery today is a very safe operation with usually excellent results. However, it is still surgery on your eyes that can carry some risk of complications including retinal detachment, corneal transplantation, and endophthalmitis – an inflammation of the inner eye.
Theirs is also no guarantee that you won’t develop another cataract sometime later that might also have to be removed. In fact, 30% to 50% of people in the U.S. who have had cataract surgery develop cataracts of the lens within 2 years requiring re-lasering or lens implant surgery.
Carnosine – The Russian/Chinese Cataract Treatment
A few decades ago, Russian and Chinese researchers started to look at L-carnosine as a treatment for cataracts. L-carnosine was already known as a superior antioxidant that helped the body fight free radical damage especially from superoxide and hydroxyl peroxide sources. It was believed that if carnosine could be delivered directly to the eyes it would be of more benefit. An initial problem existed, however, due to the fact that there was a resistance to the eyes absorbing regular L-carnosine. As a result, the researchers created a special type of carnosine called n-acetylcarnosine, which was able to be absorbed by the aqueous humor of the eye and release its cataract-dissolving properties. The resultant findings of their numerous research studies on the use of n-acetylcarnosine eyedrops in improving cataracts and visual acuity is nothing short of amazing.
After 6 months, in the patients that received this special n-acetylcarnosine, NAC for short, 88.9% had improvement in glare sensitivity, 41.5% had improvement of light transmissity of the lens, and 90% had improvement in visual acuity. In the placebo group, there was no change or there was gradual deterioration. No significant side effects were seen in the NAC treated group. Other positive findings were that users experienced brightened and relaxed, less-tired feeling/looking eyes. NAC was concluded by these researchers to be a safe, effective treatment to help prevent, halt the progress of and/or reverse cataracts. It has been used in over 1,000 patients with senile cataracts in China and Russia for the last few decades.
In more recent research from 2009 out of the University of Catania in Sicily, researchers found that a group of lab animals whose eye lens tissue cultures were treated with carnosine developed 50% to 60% less cataracts. Even more important, in the rats who were allowed to develop cataracts for purposes of the study, carnosine reversed them, restoring clarity to the lenses.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Reading all the research and anecdotal patient success stories from the last several years in the use of n-acetylcarnosine eyedrops to treat cataracts has me very excited. Searching on the Internet, I came across several companies that sell n-acetylcarnosine eye drops that claim to dissolve cataracts – Ethos, Can-C, Brite Eyes III, and others.
I recommend that, if you want to try these drops on your cataracts before opting for a surgical procedure, that you find a reputable manufacturer, compare lists of ingredients, be sure your drops contain 1% n-acetylcarnosine and follow directions exactly.
In addition, I recommend taking L-carnosine supplement, 500-1,000 mg a day to get the added benefit of the antioxidant throughout your body, which can also help your eyes. Be sure your diet contains eye-healthy vitamins like bilberry, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C and E,and selenium.
Remaining hydrated, taking a little melatonin every night, and staying away from cigarette smoke and bright sunlight can help prevent, and perhaps halt the progression of cataracts from forming or getting worse. It’s my hope that research on n-acetylcarnosine drops will continue to show that they may be the method of the future to both prevent and treat cataracts.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
New Evidence That Popular Dietary Supplement May Help Prevent, Treat Cataracts, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715101443.htm
N-Acetyl Carnosine, The Cure for Cataracts? http://wisechoicemedicine.net/store/information.php?info_id=18
Efficacy of N-acetylcarnosine in the treatment of cataract, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12001824