Is There Any Help for Cataracts?

Q I have a friend, aged 70, with a cataract in his right eye. He is interested in a natural approach to resolving the cataract but wants to be sure that any product you might recommend not have any negative effect on his other body systems or organs. He doesn’t take any prescription or over-the-counter medications, except maybe an aspirin or acetaminophen for headaches.

JOE, Feasterville-Trevose, PA

A There is evidence that N-acetylcarnosine (NAC), a compound found in commercially available eyedrops can have beneficial effects on cataracts without compromising any of the body’s functions. (See N-Acetylcarnosine May Help with Cataracts” in the August 2003 issue.) Based on the research of Russian scientists, it is believed that NAC’s parent compound, carnosine, to which NAC is converted in the eye, is effective in both preventing and treating cataracts, largely because of its antioxidant properties and its ability to inhibit a biochemical process called glycation, which leads to deleterious substances called AGEs (advanced glycation end products).

In one recent study, Russian scientists conducted two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, of 6 months and 24 months duration, with eye drops consisting of a 1% aqueous solution of NAC administered as 2 drops twice daily.1 They treated a total of 49 elderly patients (average age 65) with cataracts ranging in severity from minimal to advanced (but not to the point of requiring surgery); the total number of eyes affected was 76. Patients were monitored for the condition of their cataracts as well as their visual acuity and glare sensitivity.

At 6 months, the eyes treated with NAC were substantially improved. In 42% of the eyes, transmissivity of the lenses increased, by 12–50%; in 90% of the eyes, visual acuity improved, by 7–100%; and in 89% of the eyes, glare sensitivity improved, by 27–100%. These benefits were sustainable for the duration of the 24-month trial. No worsening of the condition was seen in any eyes treated with NAC. By contrast, the untreated eyes in the control group did worsen: in 89% of them; visual acuity dropped by 17–80% after 24 months. The eye drops were well tolerated, with no adverse effects in any patients.

Because diabetes is a risk factor for cataracts, it is important to address any problems one might have with blood sugar metabolism. Certain cinnamon polyphenolic bioflavonoids called procyanidins (type A), along with such other nutrients as alpha-lipoic acid, EGCG, L-cysteine, and mulberry extract, have been found to be helpful in this regard. The product InsuLife contains these and other beneficial nutrients in useful amounts.

Reference

  1. Babizhayev MA, Deyev AI, Yermakova VN, Semiletov YA, Davydova NG, Kurysheva NI, Zhokotskii AV, Goldman IM. N-Acetylcarnosine, a natural histidine-containing dipeptide, as a potent ophthalmic drug in treatment of human cataracts. Peptides 2001;22:979-94.

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