Cataracts form when particular eye conditions and/or aging causes a cloudy area to develop on the lens, blocking the ability for light to make its way to the retina. This affects the eye's ability to see clearly. The cloudier the lens becomes, the more vision loss will occur. If the lens becomes completely opaque, vision loss can be permanent.

While cataracts can be removed surgically, research shows simple lifestyle and dietary changes can go a long way towards preventing their development, or reversing them without the need for invasive surgical procedures. It is important to note that nutrition is also a key element in preventing other conditions that cause vision loss, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Causes and Symptoms of Cataracts

In rare cases, congenital defects cause babies to be born with cataracts. In these cases, cataracts are removed surgically to restore vision. Otherwise, most individuals develop cataracts as the result of environmental or other health factors.

The most common causes of cataracts are: 

  • Aging
  • Excessive light exposure
  • Eye injury
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Diabetes - in response to chronically high blood sugar levels
  • Eye diseases, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa, or long-term uveitis
  • Steroid medications
  • Family history
  • Frequent X-Rays or radiation treatments to the head
  • Regular use of tanning beds
  • Eye injury - the most common eye injury-related cataracts occur in children


  • Filmy or cloudy vision
  • Severe glare from lamps or the sun
  • Frequently progressive prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts
  • Difficulty driving at night, especially in response to oncoming headlights
  • Double vision
  • Second sight - this is a sudden improvement in close vision range that occurs when the lens shape is altered by the development of cataracts, although it is only temporary
  • Vision loss that affects normal daily activities

Treatment Options for Cataracts

Annual visits to our Integrative Ophthalmologist and/or routine physical exams, are the best way to catch cataracts before they are severe enough to require surgery. Dr. Matta will be able to see the filmy, cloudy, haze that begins to obscure the pupil. You may even be able to see this yourself when you look at your pupil in the mirror.

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes Can Reverse Cataracts

Unless your cataract development is swift and severe, there is a good chance that you can reverse the cataracts by enhancing your nutritional intake. In the meantime, eyeglasses and contacts will be able to compensate for your vision loss. If you smoke, quitting will slow down or stop cataract progression.

Vitamin C and Carotenoids

The American Optometric Association recommends patients with cataracts increase their Vitamin C intake. High levels of anti-oxidants slow down and/or reverse cataract development. It is recommended that women and men consume 75 mg and 95 mg per day, respectively. If you smoke, increase your daily intake by 35 mg. The best way for the body to absorb nutrients is from real foods. Synthetic supplements are second best. Never take a dietary supplement without speaking with your holistic physician first.

Foods that contain high levels of Vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Green peppers
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two beneficial carotenoids found in dark leafy greens, such as kale, turnip greens, and Brussels sprouts. Beta carotene is found in fruits and vegetables with an orange or yellow hue, such as carrots, certain squashes, peaches, and tomatoes.

Your doctor may talk to you about supplementation of other vitamins, such as A and E.

Surgical intervention

If cataract development is such that your quality of life is diminished, your doctor may talk to you about surgical intervention. Dr. Ayman Matta, Integrative Ophthalmologist at Patients Medical, may remove the clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Dr. Matta will only recommend surgery when non-invasive treatments are ineffective.

Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical

Our job at Patients Medical is to listen, to connect the dots between a patient's medical history, symptoms, and their underlying causes. Patients Medical is a superb place for women and men to secure integrative and holistic health care from providers who give personalized care, partner with the patient to focus on the root cause of their illness, support their recovery, and help them maintain good health.

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at 1-212-794-8800. We look forward to hearing from you.

Next Steps For Supplement Therapy:

Many of us will benefit by taking supplements for the issues discussed on this page.

To order the supplements, please visit our supplements store website Or call 1-212-794-8800 to place an order.

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