Most of us take good vision for granted and only start to think about our eyes when something goes wrong.
That "something" is far more likely to be a cataract than anything else. Just as well, since cataracts are generally less sight-threatening than, say, glaucoma or macular disease. (Glaucoma affects the nerve that joins the eye to the brain, macular disease is damage to the center of the retina - both are regarded as potentially blinding and permanent.)
Cataracts are top of the list of reasons people experience problems with their vision and unfortunately, most news about cataracts isn't good. You certainly don't want to be told you have cataracts. You don't want the vision problems cataracts cause - and you don't want the hassle, expense and worry of an operation. It can be hard to accept that you don't see as well as you used to.
You need good vision to enjoy so many of life's simple daily pleasures and of course, there are legal requirements for driving. Cataracts are so common they are regarded as "normal" in old age. One very easy to remember statistic is that at least 75% of 75 year-old people have cataract.
The routine treatment offered for cataracts is surgery. Cataract surgery is continually improving and the procedure is usually safe and effective. But this means that some people are encouraged to have operations in the very early stages of cataracts - even though the risks of complications are pretty much the same for mild cataracts as for more "fully formed" ones. It's becoming increasingly difficult to decide when the vision is bad enough to justify the risks.
And surgery isn't necessarily the end of the matter. Once the operation is over there is inevitably a period of recovery (usually, adapting to new eyeglasses and glare, at least). For most people, a special kind of laser treatment (called YAG) is required to treat "after cataract" at some later date, when a membrane behind the pupil "clouds over". The patient experiences cataract-like sight problems all over again and a laser is used to puncture a hole to sharpen up the vision.
So, are there any alternatives for people who can't have or simply don't want surgery? Can cataracts be avoided or reversed in some way? Is there a diet, a medicine or an eye drop that can prevent or improve cataracts? Doctors are still largely doubtful about such possibilities.
An eye drop to treat a cataract does sound a bit too good to be true, doesn't it?
Well, the good news - and what most people don't know about cataracts - is startling. Clinicians are finally beginning to accept the research that tells them that in many instances, the ailments associated with aging aren't inevitable. Given the right building blocks, the body can avoid most of the degenerative changes common in old age.
NEXT - what is a cataract?
This website (and the accompanying book - "The Good News About Cataracts") is designed to raise awareness of some issues related to cataract. It is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or other health care professional. Readers who intend to use this information as a basis for any dietary, drug or other lifestyle change do so at their own risk and are strongly advised to first seek the professional advice of an appropriately qualified healthcare practitioner.