Can I Prevent Cataracts?
Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions in the world, estimated to affect 24 million Americans over the age of 40. By the age of 80, one in every two Americans have cataracts (even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed).
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye, which is naturally clear, begins to cloud over. These clouds appear in small patches that grow over time and are a result of the proteins found within them thickening and clumping together. Patients with cataracts compare their vision to permanently looking through frosted glass.
Cataracts can appear in just one eye, although it is normal to experience them in both. However, their rate of growth can vary, meaning that it is normal to have clearer vision in one eye than the other. Eventually, if left untreated, cataracts will lead to total blindness.
Cataracts may be an inevitable part of life, but fortunately, there are things that can be done to delay their onset and slow their progression. Here’s what you need to know about keeping cataracts at bay.
Eat Right to Delay the Onset of Cataracts
Getting the right nutrition is essential for the health and proper function of every aspect of our body, including our eyes. Studies have shown that eating a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants and certain vitamins can reduce the risk of cataracts and slow their progression. Some of the foods that are particularly good for eye health include:
Colorful fruits and vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, oranges and mango.
Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach and collards.
Oily fish including salmon and tuna.
Eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat sources of protein.
Citrus fruit juices are also valuable for eye health.
We know that smoking is bad for our lungs, and for our overall health, but did you know that this includes your vision? Smoking has been shown to increase your risk of developing cataracts as well as other ocular problems such as retinal detachment and macular degeneration. Kick the nicotine to prevent the onset and progression of cataracts.
Protect your eyes from UV rays
Research has shown that persistent exposure to UV rays can damage your eyes and put you at risk of developing a range of problems, including cataracts. Fortunately, it’s simple to prevent UV damage – just pick up a pair of quality sunglasses. Choose a pair that block 99-100% of UV rays (it should state this on the label), even if you wear contact lenses. The closer-fitting the frames the more effective they will be at blocking out the UV light, so try and choose styles that wraparound or sit nice and close to your face.
In addition to protecting your eyes from UV damage, you should also take care of your eyes if you are taking part in any sort of activity where they could be damaged – such as participating in sports with fast-moving elements like lacrosse, baseball, and ice hockey, doing woodwork or working on cars. Safety goggles are widely available and very effective.
Take regular screen breaks
An increasing number of us are using screens in our day to day lives. Whether it’s for work or social reasons, spending too long staring at a screen is bad news for your eyes. Problems that can occur include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck/back pain. It can also potentially increase the likelihood that you will develop cataracts. To help reduce this risk, be sure to take regular screen breaks so that your vision can readjust and relax. Follow the 20, 20 rule – a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time. During this time, focus on objects further away.
If you would like to learn more about cataracts or cataract surgery at Progressive Ophthalmology, call our New York Ophthalmology office today at 718-565-2020.