The Organic Info on Vit C and Cataracts

By Jon Barron

We’ve talked a number of times before about how the press frequently gets stories about health and nutrition wrong. Often it’s because they literally copy summaries of recently published studies that were sent to them by the big news agencies such as Reuters, AP, and UPI. Never bothering to even glance at the original studies, the press takes what the news agencies supply them as gospel and republish those stories making some minor changes in wording to make it look like an original story.

Unfortunately, the news agencies frequently get the story wrong when writing up their summaries–or more accurately, leave out key parts to “simplify” the story for their clients in the press–so that misleading information is often published by hundreds of media outlets throughout the world…and assumed to be gospel by the public. After all, if everyone is saying the same thing, it must be true.

The Organic News About Cataracts

Cataracts affect about 24 million people in the US and are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.1Worldwide, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness,2 accounting for about 48% of all cases–with about 18 million people blind in both eyes as a result.3

Essentially, there are:

  • Multiple triggers for cataracts
  • Two primary pathways
  • But when all is said and done, only one cause.

Cataracts occur when there is a buildup of protein in the lens that makes it cloudy. The lens itself is primarily made up of water and proteins. The proteins in the lens are arranged in a perfect physiochemical balance, ensuring that the lens is perfectly transparent. Once a cataract starts, however, it progresses as new lens cells form on the outside of the lens, compacting all the older cells into the center of the lens resulting in the cataract getting progressively denser and more opaque. These are known as nuclear cataracts. (Two variations are cortical cataracts, which are wedge-shaped and form around the edges of the nucleus, and posterior capsular cataracts, which form faster than the other two types and affect the back of the lens.) In any case, that’s the sole cause of all cataracts: damage to the proteins in the cells of the lens. But as I mentioned earlier, there are multiple triggers that can spark the initial seed, without which there is no cataract to progress.

Free Radical Damage & Cataracts

A free radical is an especially reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons. If you remember your high school chemistry, you will remember that electrons come in pairs. When one electron is lost from that pair, it makes the atom “highly reactive” as it looks to replace that lost electron anywhere it can. In your body, those replacement electrons come from cells in your body–destroying those cells in the process.

Free radicals put your body in a state of oxidative stress in which your body is no longer able to maintain a balance between the appearance of reactive oxygen species and its ability to detoxify those free radicals or to repair the resulting damage. A single free radical can destroy an enzyme, a protein molecule, a strand of DNA, or an entire cell. Even worse, that one free radical can unleash, in a fraction of a second, a torrential chain reaction that produces a million or more additional killer free radicals–each out hunting for living cells to destroy like a herd of sharks in a mindless feeding frenzy.

The proteins in the lens of the eye are especially vulnerable, which is why a number of antioxidants are concentrated in the eye to protect it from free radical damage. Free radical damage can be halted by anti- oxidants, but as we age, our bodies produce more harmful free radicals and less natural antioxidants. The net result is that damage from free radicals gradually begins to accumulate. Such free radical damage can happen in the cells of the eye, which, coupled with the damage caused by glycation, worsens the situation with regard to cataracts.

Speak Your Mind