Currently there is no natural cure for cataracts, and the only way to remove them is with surgery. However, ongoing research into nonsurgical treatments for cataracts is positive.

Cataracts occur when the proteins in the eye’s lens begin to break down and clump together.

This causes a cloudy area to appear on the lens. Light cannot easily pass through this area, resulting in blurry vision. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision impairment worldwide.

In this article, we discuss whether a person can reverse their cataracts. We also outline surgical treatments for cataracts and nonsurgical measures for managing and preventing cataracts and discuss the outlook for a person with cataracts.

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There is currently no natural cure for cataracts. The only way a person can remove them is by undergoing surgery.

However, recent animal studies into natural treatments for cataracts are promising.

One 2017 study evaluated how effective N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) eye drops were in helping reverse the formation of cataracts. NACA is an antioxidant, which is a substance that may prevent or delay types of cell damage.

In the above 2017 study, researchers induced cataracts in rats before treating them with NACA eye drops.

The study’s results showed that NACA could reverse the cataract grade. It concluded that NACA has the potential to significantly improve vision and decrease the burden of cataract-related loss of vision.

In a study from 2022, researchers examined whether an oxygenated derivative of cholesterol — oxysterol — would be an effective treatment for cataracts in mice.

The researchers used oxysterol to attempt to alter the levels of alpha-crystallin B or alpha-crystallin A proteins present in the lenses of 26 mice. These proteins often cause cataracts to develop in aging.

The study showed that oxysterol improved lens opacity 61% of the time. This is a promising sign that oxysterol may be an effective, nonsurgical treatment for cataracts.

Research into these treatments is still in a very early stage. Therefore, more research is necessary into these natural cataract treatments to determine if they will be effective on humans.

A doctor may suggest a person has surgery if their vision loss affects their ability to carry out everyday activities.

During cataract surgery, a surgeon will remove the cloudy lens from the person’s eye and replace it with an artificial lens.

A person is usually awake during this surgery but receives mild sedation to stay relaxed. The procedure ordinarily takes around 1 hour and is almost entirely painless.

Surgery types

Eye health experts may recommend treating cataracts with phacoemulsification, a modern cataract surgery technique that utilizes a type of laser. The laser creates a circular opening to the lens capsule to facilitate cataract removal. The same laser can alter the curvature of the clear cornea, if necessary, to eliminate nearly all refractive errors and the need for glasses after surgery.

Read more about the types of surgery.

Surgery steps

Cataract surgery will often follow these steps:

  1. The surgeon will put numbing drops onto the person’s eye so they do not feel anything.
  2. They will use small tools to cut into the eye, breaking up the lens.
  3. They will use small instruments to enter the eye and open the lens capsule.
  4. They will then completely remove the lens contents from the eye.
  5. Immediately after surgery, a person will need to rest in a recovery area for a little while.
  6. The medical team will then check to ensure people do not have any eye problems, and if they do not, they can go home.

A doctor will give a person eye drops to help the eye heal after surgery. The individual may also have to wear a special eye shield or glasses for a short while after surgery to protect their eye.

Postsurgery tips

A doctor will often give a person tips on protecting their eye in the first few weeks after cataract surgery. These may include:

  • avoiding touching the eye
  • avoiding bending over
  • avoiding lifting heavy things

There is no natural way to prevent cataracts, but there are some measures a person can take to help prevent cataracts from developing and slow their progression.

These steps include:

A person can also consider having a dilated eye exam. The National Eye Institute states that if someone is over 60 years of age, they need to have a dilated eye exam at least once every 2 years.

If a person has cataracts and does not receive the treatment, it can lead to vision loss and even blindness. However, with treatment, the outlook is often very positive.

In most cases, surgery restores a person’s vision very effectively.

Outcomes depend on the health of the individual and the presence of other eye conditions such as:

  • glaucoma
  • macular degeneration
  • diabetic retinopathy

Studies show that after surgery, 70–80% of people achieve significant visual improvement.

A person has a better chance of positive vision improvements after surgery if they strictly follow the postoperative instructions of their doctor and take any recommended medication after the surgery.

After surgery, people can also have a routine eye examination, which can look for new cataract development and any other eye problems that may arise.

Things that can affect a person’s outlook after cataract surgery include:

  • the presence of another systemic disease
  • the time between the development of the cataract and the surgery
  • the type of surgery

There is no current natural cure for cataracts. However, there is ongoing research into using nonsurgical treatments for the condition.

Animal research into using NACA and oxysterol eye drops has both produced positive results. However, more research is necessary to determine whether these less-invasive treatments will be effective treatments for cataracts in humans.

Surgery is a very effective treatment for cataracts, and most surgeries are successful. If a person does not undergo surgery to treat their cataracts, they can worsen, leading to vision loss.