Cataracts are a medical condition in which the lens of the eye clouds over time and causes impaired vision and potential blindness. The hardening and clumping of protein cells in the lens, resulting in many cases from long-term damage done to the eye, is the primary factor in their development. Aging, poor lifestyle choices and many other risk factors can help cause cataracts to develop. However, there are things you can do to help prevent or delay the onset of cataracts. Here are a few.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet will do many things to improve your health, and there are certain nutrients that can help prevent the development of cataracts. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, antioxidants found in fruits and green leafy vegetables (such as Vitamins C and E, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin) and dietary supplements can all play a role in reducing your risk for cataracts. Eating foods rich in iron, calcium and zinc can also help prevent the onset of cataracts.
Protect Your Eyes From UV Light
The sun can significantly damage your eyes if you continuously expose them to its light. This is particularly true of the rays of the sun that we can’t see, such as ultraviolet light. Continued exposure over time to the unfiltered rays of the sun will increase your risk of developing cataracts, so make sure to use sunglasses and a brimmed hat whenever you’re out in the bright sun for an extended period of time.
There are various harmful substances in cigarettes and other tobacco products that can harm your eyes. The chemicals that enter your bloodstream can affect your sight, as can the toxins in the exhaled smoke. Even if you currently smoke, quitting this habit now can still prevent cataracts from developing in the future.
Consume Alcohol In Moderation
Excessive alcohol intake can lead to harmful changes in your sight. Although it may not happen quickly, prolonged periods of excessive alcohol consumption can speed up cataract development just as smoking does.
Manage Chronic Conditions
Chronic conditions tend to create imbalances in the overall wellness of the body. Diabetes is one particular chronic condition that can harm your eyes if not managed properly. For instance, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can result in blindness if not managed properly. Other chronic diseases, such as obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, can also increase your risk of developing cataracts. Conditions requiring steroid (i.e. prednisone) treatment can also lead to increased cataract formation.
Regular exercise will also promote wellness in your eyes. Getting your blood pumping and training your body will prepare it to handle both internal and external health stressors much more easily. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors for developing cataracts, and exercise will help manage these health conditions. Just remember to wear appropriate eye protection if you exercise out in the bright sun and to prevent eye trauma, which can also lead to cataract formation.
Schedule An Annual Eye Appointment
Ophthalmologists can do a lot in a single eye checkup. Besides determining any change in vision or prescription, they can check for the development of eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. If you have a family history of cataracts, are advancing in age or are otherwise concerned about your risk for eye disease, schedule your next eye appointment with Piedmont Eye Center today!