There is no better prevention of eye diseases than regular checkups at the doctor. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do some things preventatively to make our doc’s work a little bit easier.
Today, cataracts are the number one eye condition affecting Americans over 40. Around 20.5 million Americans suffer from this condition, and about 6 million have had their lenses surgically removed due to a cataract.
With that said, it becomes quickly clear that if you are to avoid problems with a cataract, you should take action immediately.
Luckily for you, we’re here to offer help. In the article below, we’ll discuss what a cataract is, as a condition, and lay out a few tips that will help reduce the risk of cataracts in the future.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is an umbrella term for various conditions involving the clouding of the eye’s lens.
Yes, you’ve read that right. Cataracts come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common – the affected eye becomes clouded due to the accumulation of protein in or near the lens of the eye, clouding it and obscuring vision.
The most common symptom from the onlooker’s perspective is the visual clouding of the eye. As the protein builds up, a murky blot starts to form over the lens, such that the pupil that was once black now assumes a brownish, yellowish, or silverish color.
From the affected’s perspective, the vision becomes cloudy, colors start to look different, and the person starts to see halos and excessive glare around light sources, which is further exacerbated by low light conditions and is usually followed by night blindness.
The most typical form of cataract is the nuclear cataract. In a nuclear cataract, the protein residue forms in the center (nucleus) of the lens, causing the, now most commonly depicted and seen, silver-colored iris. A cataract can also form on the cortex of the lens (around the edge), scattering light and causing hazy vision and halos, especially at night.
Tips for Preventing Cataracts
Now that we know what cataracts are let’s take a look at a few tips on how to prevent them.
1. Quit Smoking/Drinking
It is well known that smoking has an extremely adverse effect on your lungs, heart, and liver, but did you know that it can also damage your eyesight, and cause cataracts?
Smoking creates free radicals inside your body, and those free radicals can also make it into your eye. The free radicals eliminate antioxidants, and further facilitate the accumulation of protein in your eyes, thus resulting in a cataract.
Excessive alcohol intake has a similar effect as smoking on your eyes. New research shows that alcohol can also release free radicals in your body. However, unlike smoking, you don’t have to quit entirely, but be very conservative and limit your alcohol dosage.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
We mentioned free radicals hurting your sight by eliminating antioxidants. From that, it stands to reason that antioxidants are good for your eyes.
Many physicians advocate that a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and antioxidants, can help reduce the risk of cataracts forming.
When it comes to vitamins, vitamins E and C are vital when it comes to cataract prevention. Citruses, kiwifruit, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes are rich in vitamins E and C and are highly recommended for maintaining good eye health (sorry carrots, you lose this one).
Eating healthy also lowers your chances of suffering from diabetes, too, which is a known cause of many eye diseases, including cataracts.
3. Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation
UV radiation is no doubt harmful, and potentially deadly. We all know what UV light can cause cancer, but it also can cause radiation cataracts. These cataracts form due to prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB radiation, but they can also be caused by radiation treatment for cancer.
This is why it’s important to protect your eyes from UV radiation by either wearing sunglasses or wearing wide-brimmed hats that prevent the sun from shining directly into your eyes. Who says you can’t be cool and be health-conscious at the same time?
And there you have it, 3 tips for protecting your eyes and lowering the risk of cataracts. As we said, cataracts are a common eye ailment, and, while relatively easily treated, it might be a better idea to work on your prevention rather than going under the knife.