As we age, our eyes are at risk for developing cataracts. More than half of Americans develop cataracts by the age of 80. When cataracts are present, the normally transparent lens inside the eye has become cloudy or hazy, which is like looking through a dirty window. Over time they will get worse, in fact, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Cataracts are more prevalent than glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined. While not painful, cataracts don’t allow the light to pass through the eye properly, making your world seem blurry and dim. So what can one do to help prevent cataracts? First, know the causes, then, consider these 5 helpful tips on how to prevent cataracts.
The causes of cataracts are quite varied, but most have to do with overall health. Health conditions that are known to possibly cause cataracts include diabetes, obesity, hypertension, certain medications, steroid use and eye injuries or diseases. Smoking and alcohol consumption as well as exposure to UV rays are also contributing factors to cataract formation. To better care for your eyes and protect yourself from developing cataracts:
Wear Sunglasses – Anytime you're outside and exposed to bright light, wear sunglasses that are 99% or higher in UV absorption. Sunglasses should be worn year round, and particularly when near water, such as at the beach or while participating in outdoor activities. Be mindful of medications that can cause sensitivity to light.
Stop Smoking – Aside from the negative effects smoking has on your overall health, it also plays a role in promoting cataract development. Smokers are at a higher risk for developing hypertension and diabetes (2 of the health conditions that play a role in developing cataracts). If possible, it’s best to find a way to say no to cigarettes.
Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods – Eating a diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants helps to protect the eyes from cataracts. Eating a colorful diet and whole foods goes a long way into the prevention of cataract formation and progression. Bilberry, for example, contains antioxidants that slow cataract formation and lowers blood sugar. Broccoli also contains antioxidants, like lutein, that protect the lens and retina of the eye. Foods, like fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to potentially reduce the risk of cataract formation and progression.
Take Multivitamin Supplements – While there's no supplement for a healthy diet you can consider adding a multivitamin to your routine. Centrum Silver features vitamins A, C, and E which are excellent vitamins for cataract prevention and they promote overall eye health. It also includes lutein and zeaxanthin, which aid in the eyes’ response to light and glare.
Schedule Vision Screening – As with everything else in life, early detection is key to getting the best treatment. Following the preventative tips above and having regular vision screenings will optimize your chances of having healthy eyes throughout your life and reduce the progression of cataracts. However, should cataracts develop, they are treatable if caught early.
Taking these steps towards preventing cataracts is essential to keeping the world you see bright and clear. Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start a regimen that protects the health of your eyes. Contact us today to ask about our exams or cataract treatments.