Your best insurance against the leading cause of blindness

“How can I prevent cataracts?”

It’s a question that comes up in my practice quite frequently. Which isn’t so surprising, considering cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness.

There are more than 20 million adults with cataracts in the United States alone. Cataract removal is by far the most common surgery in this country. (There are more than 3 million performed every year.)

And unfortunately, there’s no single magic bullet that can reverse these statistics. Because this is another one of those cases where simply getting older is enough to push the process along.

Still, you know how I feel about the “inevitability” of aging. Your lifestyle has everything to do with the toll time takes on your body. And the fate of your vision is no exception to this rule.

Take, for example, the results of a new study — which show that getting more of just one vitamin can actually slow cataract progression dramatically.

British researchers recently found that simply boosting your vitamin C intake could slam the brakes on cataract formation. This study followed a group of more than 2,000 twins for 10 years.

And as it turns out, compared to subjects with low vitamin C intake, subjects with high levels of dietary vitamin C benefited from a 33 percent lower risk of cataract progression. As well as clearer lenses after a decade.

According to the study’s authors, the vitamin-C-rich fluid that surrounds your eyes helps to keep them from clouding over with age. So it’s hardly a stretch to assume that boosting your vitamin C intake might also stall cataract formation by helping to enrich this protective fluid.

This study’s results certainly seem to suggest as much.

But vitamin C is hardly your only option for added defense. Previous research has shown that higher intakes of vitamin E (through diet or supplements) can protect against cataract formation, too. And other free-radical fighters like vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin have all been linked to improved eye health, as well.

If you read the January 2013 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, then you may remember that several of these antioxidant nutrients feature prominently in my cataract prevention protocol. (Along with n-acetylcarnosine, bilberry, and pine bark extract, among others.)

And believe me, taking them every day is a lot less expensive — and a lot less stressful — than going in for eye surgery once the damage is already done. So there’s no reason not to be stocking up on these nutrients if you think your vision is at risk.

Now granted, this study touted the benefits of “dietary vitamin C” (rather than vitamin C supplementation) because the researchers relied on food questionnaires and analyses to draw their conclusion.

Just be careful how you go about incorporating more vitamin C-rich foods into your diet. While increasing your intake of vegetables and low-sugar fruits is an excellent idea, adding a glass of orange juice to your breakfast is not .

But even if you do increase your dietary intake of vitamin C, I still recommend supplementing with it (and vitamin E) every day. They’re both widely available and inexpensive, so there’s really no reason not to. I recommend 3,000 mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E per day (of mixed tocopherols).

Another thing I ask patients to do to avoid cataract formation is to wear sunglasses when outside at all times — even on cloudy days. This prevents harmful UV rays from reaching your eyes and triggering oxidative stress. (Yes, your eyes can suffer sun damage, just like your skin. And one of the consequences is a higher risk of cataract formation.)

And don’t forget that elevated blood sugar is also a major cause of vision loss. In fact, diabetics have nearly double the risk of cataracts. So if you fall into this category, or are even teetering on the edge, I strongly urge you to check out my Metabolic Repair Protocol and get your body (and your vision) started on the path back to health today.

Of course, these tips are just for starters. For a more complete discussion of this subject, I definitely encourage you to go back and read the article “Putting the brakes on the world’s leading cause of blindness” from the January 2013 issue of Logical Health Alternatives. If you’re already a subscriber, you can find it in the archives. And if you’re not, you can gain access to all of my current, upcoming, and previous issues (and more) by signing up today.