Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, located behind the pupil and iris, becomes cloudy. This can result in blurriness, sensitivity to light and vision loss. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness and affect millions of people in the United States, especially those over the age of 40. The only way to treat cataracts is to remove the clouded lens through surgery. The good news is that cataracts are preventable to a certain extent. Follow our tips to ensure that you are doing your part to prevent cataracts.
1. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV blocking. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays harms eyes in many ways and may be one major risk factor in forming cataracts. Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, as well, to physically block sunlight from your face.
2. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Cigarette smoke is extremely harmful in many ways and has been linked to an increased chance of developing cataracts. Quit the habit, and your eyes, body, and those around you will thank you. Consume alcohol in moderation, as well. Just like cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol consumption leads to a host of health issues, including a greater chance of forming cataracts.
3. Manage your health problems. A higher risk of forming cataracts has been linked to diabetes and hypertension. By managing these health issues, you may also lower your risk of forming cataracts.
4. Eat right. This step is important for several reasons. First, obesity is a risk factor for cataracts. If you maintain a healthy weight, you cut out that particular risk factor. Second, studies have found that certain nutrients can help prevent cataracts from forming. These nutrients include vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids. Many of these nutrients can be found in foods like eggs, sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, spinach, and fresh fruits and vegetables. By eating a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, you will also take in a large amount of antioxidants, which may also help prevent cataracts. Plus, a healthy diet will help manage other health issues that may be linked to forming cataracts (such as in tip 3, above).
5. Have regular eye exams. Your eye doctor will be able to look for cataracts before the cataracts start affecting your ability to perform daily tasks. This can lead to treatment and prevent your cataracts from causing blindness! Schedule an eye exam now with one of our eye doctors if you have a concern about your vision or if it has been more than one or two years since you last saw an eye doctor.