A maverick ophthalmologist, who has saved the sight of many thousands of patients in Britain and Africa, offers a way to treat cataracts without surgery.
In an earlier issue (Vol. 2 No. 3 ) we introduced Stanley Evans, a British ophthalmologist who has cured many eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts, through a nutritional approach. This maverick, now in his seventies, developed his nutritional approach in Britain in the Forties and then spent 17 years in Africa on an extended research programme into the causes and prevention of blindness. He made the connection between many eye disorders and nutritional deficiency, and after studying which nutrients affected which parts of the eye, he developed a dietary therapy which has helped thousands of cataract patients.Then in the early Eighties, Mr Evans returned to Britain, where he had published much of his research in respected journals like The Optician. Evans claims that the research he has studied and published for some 44 years is only recently being confirmed by other sources. Roche Phamaceuticals, for instance, organized a conference several years ago studying vitamins E ,C and A and their role in the prevention of cataracts. Evans notes this research with amusement since the vitamin division of Roche manufactures the supplement he developed and has used on his patients for many years.
Mr Evans' work has been confirmed by the work of two Americans, using a similar approach (see p 2).
The majority of cataract patients in Britain do not know they have the disease until some time after it has developed. This is the case simply because the practitioner treating them is taught in medical school that nothing can be done, so he puts off the ordeal of informing the patient until his vision is affected, or the cataract "ripened". [Or, in some cases, uses techniques to hasten the ripening process along. Editor.]
Cataract, says his doctor, is an inevitable outcome of old age; he must live with the handicap until the cataract is sufficiently developed to allow the crystalline lens to be removed surgically and replaced either by spectacles, contact lenses or implants. He is also told that cataract is irreversible and that nothing can be done about it. Only those who suffer from this condition can really understand how cruel this attitude is.
A number of different forms of cataract exist, but the most common in the developed countries, which usually starts after the age of 50, is known as "senile cataract". This is regarded as a normal consequence of ageing and has even been compared to grey hair. This is because a high percentage of people over 50 years of age develop cataract (65 per cent), and a much higher percentage over 60 years of age (96 per cent).
Other forms of cataract are caused by metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or by outside influences such as toxins, trauma, radiation, prescribed and non prescribed drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Congenital cataract, which is rare in Britain but common in the developing countries, is caused either by malnutrition and/or by drugs, alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. Nevertheless, the senile cataract of the developed countries is indistinguishable from the majority of cataracts seen in developing countries caused by malnutrition and nutritional deficiency.
The exceptions demonstrate that although age could be a factor in its onset, it evidently is not the root cause. Many people at 90 are free of cataract. Our work in Africa has demonstrated that it is basically a nutritional disorder. In the developed countries, a person's nutritional status is reduced by changes in metabolism caused by ageing, which in a large number of cases is still further compromised by alcohol, careless feeding habits, smoking, and stress brought on by illness or prescription drugs. But if the patient improves his diet and maintains a high nutritional status, the evidence available confirms that cataract isn't likely to develop. Even when it has, if these measures are taken its development can in many cases be arrested.
Other forms of cataract are caused by orthodox methods of treating eye disorders. The use of pilocarpine drops for glaucoma causes cataract, which has been known for many years. Evidence now shows that if the nutritional status is low, excessive sun bathing can also increase the risk of cataract, even when wearing sunglasses. This can also happen when ultraviolet rays are reflected from surrounding objects, such as road surfaces, buildings, sand, water, even when you are in the shade.
The modern use of laser beams for different eye disorders is another hazard, which can cause changes in the lens cells and precipitate cataract. I have seen some cases where laser beams have caused not only cataract but also other serious damage, rendering the eye virtually useless.
At the onset of cataract the protein cells of the lens begin to change, a change that takes place gradually. The visual acuity is slightly affected because the lens proteins are changing, which when completed is irreversible. At this point, the lens is less than crystal clear, but the patient would not really notice a reduction in visual acuity unless he were to take a careful eye examination and visual acuity test.
As the change in protein cells progresses, the cells continue to become less clear. If the nutritional status is raised before this cycle is complete, all the cells in the process of changing can be reversed and their transparency restored. But if some cells have completed this cycle, they become opaque and cannot be restored to normal, although any adjacent cells that have not yet completed the cycle can be.
Frequently, if a cataract has been developing for some time when nutritional therapy commences, visual acuity can often be improved as a result of the restoration of the partially changed cells. If the patient maintains his nutritional status, the cataract won't develop further and surgery can be avoided or at least delayed for many years.
The responsibility to notify the patient immediately as soon as lens change is first discovered rests squarely on the practitioner, so that the patient has the opportunity of seeking help from a nutritionist. The prejudice with which most eye doctors view nutritional therapy robs the patient of the opportunity of obtaining help, so that he is finally obliged to accept the surgeon's knife as the only solution. Vision after surgery is never as good as before the cataract developed, and not every cataract operation is successful.
After surgery for removing the crystalline lens, thick lenses, contact lenses or an implant needs to be worn. None of these is a very satisfactory solution. Thick lenses severely curtail sight, whereas contact lenses can cause corneal ulceration and implants, glaucoma and well as other sight threatening complications. Even when cataract surgery is successful, there are inherent risks from the use of implants, besides glaucoma,such as intra ocular inflammation or damage to the vitreous during surgery causing retinal detachment.
When you are having your eyes examined, always ask your doctor whether cataract has commenced or there are any signs that it might develop. If he doesn't answer your questions satisfactorily, be insistent. If a cataract has started to develop, instead of waiting for it to be "ripe" enough for surgery, seek ophthalmic nutritional therapy at once since more help can be given in the early stages.
The first thing to do is to stop smoking, abstain from alcohol and ensure that your diet contains at least 70 grams of protein per day. If you have been prescribed drugs for any condition, find out if they are likely to cause cataract. If so, ask your GP to change the drug. Cortisone and other steroids are common culprits.
A good practitioner familiar with ophthalmic nutritional therapy should examine you for evidence of ocular suppression or abnormality. Your diet will also be analyzed and corrected when necessary. He or she will also photograph the eyes and test intra ocular tension.