tips to prevent cataract

Tips To Prevent Cataracts

The natural crystalline lens in the eye is transparent and colorless. Cataract is the clouding of the natural lens and it can affect one’s vision and quality of life. It can affect vision during driving, reading, watching television and even the view of your loved ones. Sight and vision is critical to our quality of life. When we think of cataracts, we think it is a disease that exclusively affects elderly people, but that is not always the case. Typically cataracts start developing around the age 40 and by the age 80, more than 70% of the people develop visually significant cataracts. It is true that the most common form of cataracts is age related, but this is not to say that people younger than 40 do not develop cataracts. According to a study, 35% of cataract progression is affected by genetics, and individual environmental factors account for 65% of the impact. We cannot change our genetics, but can follow important tips to prevent cataracts and incorporate them into our daily life.

Wear Sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses is one of the important tips to prevent cataracts. Cataracts form when the natural lens inside of our eyes loses its transparency. The natural lens is made mostly of water and proteins. The UV light rays can damage the lens proteins through a process called glycation. They trigger harmful oxidative reactions in the lens and cause the lens proteins to become cloudy. Sunglasses protect your eyes from excessive UV exposure. Therefore, it is important to wear sunglasses with a good UV protection when outdoors for a long period of time.

Quit Smoking

The process of cataract formation is through damage to the proteins in the natural lens through oxidative stress. Smoking tobacco is well known to increase oxidative damage in our body by promoting oxidation and increasing free radical activity throughout our body. Smoking can also indirectly increase oxidative stress by depleting antioxidants in our body. Additionally, the heavy metals contained in the tobacco, such as cadmium, lead and copper can accumulate in the natural lens and cause toxicity. So, in addition to damaging our lungs and blood vessels, smoking also increases the risk of early development of cataracts. Studies have shown that smoking related damage to the lens may be reversible after smoking cessation. But it can take decades and the damages to the lens may only be partially reversible. Therefore one of the simple tips to prevent cataract is to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet that is high in antioxidants is one of the tips to prevent cataracts. As cataract formation is due to oxidative stress, you should have a diet that is high in natural antioxidants. Eating fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens help maintain our body’s natural ability to combat oxidative stress, which accumulates naturally through aging. Studies have found a protective effect on our eyes from dietary intake of foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin. Therefore include foods like spinach, broccoli, citrus, berries and avocados in your daily diet.

Control Blood Sugar

This is especially important for people with diabetes. People with diabetes form cataracts through a process called osmotic stress. It is often responsible for rapid cataract formation in people with uncontrolled blood sugar and diabetes. Studies have shown a 3 to 4 fold increase in the prevalence of cataracts in people with diabetes under the age of 65. The risk is greater in people with longer duration of diabetes and in those with poor blood sugar control. Besides early cataract formation, diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar can also cause damage to other parts of our eyes, such as retina. Therefore, have good blood sugar control if you have diabetes or modify your lifestyle to prevent diabetes.

Avoid Long Term Use of Steroids

Long term corticosteroid exposure can come from many different sources, such as eye drops, oral tablets, inhalers and injections. Long term steroid can cause a specific type of cataract called posterior subcapsular cataract or PSC. PSC cataracts can often cause significant vision loss over a relatively short period of time. Corticosteroids are often prescribed to treat certain types of arthritis, dermatitis or respiratory disease. It is important to remember that if you are prescribed corticosteroids long term, discuss with your doctor about the potential side effects of long term steroid usage. You should also have regular eye examinations with your eye doctor to monitor for early cataract formation.

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