What are cataracts, and how can we prevent them? For the almost forty million people in the United States who suffer from cataracts, as well as the millions others around the world, this is an extremely serious concern. After all, cataracts are the major cause of blindness in the world. Cataracts occur when the lens inside your eye turns cloudy and impairs your vision. Most cataracts are caused by aging and there’s no known way to prevent them. However, other cataracts are caused by trauma, diabetes, and prolonged exposure to sunlight. Recent research suggests several methods on how to prevent cataracts.
- Diet– Studies have shown that certain nutrients have an impact on the formation of cataracts.
- Antioxidants– In a 2008 study of 35,551 women, researchers found that those who consumed the highest quantity of the antioxidants found in yellow or dark-green leafy vegetables were 18% less likely to develop cataracts.
- Omega 3s– Known to fight inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids may help shield your eyes from cataract development. Data from a 2005 study of 71,083 women suggests that these fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon and sardines, and in flaxseed, reduced the occurrence of cataracts.
- Antioxidant Vitamins – Research supports the theory that vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene all combat free radicals, which are a major cause of the illnesses of aging, including cataracts.
- Diabetes Management– Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to cataract formation. Keeping strict control over your blood sugar is a good way of preventing fast growing cataracts.
- UV Protection- The sun’s rays are harmful to the eyes, and can speed the growth of cataracts.
- Protection from Injury– An injury to the eye can cause a cataract to develop almost immediately. Use protective eye gear whenever you’re at risk of eye injury.
- Caution when using Medication- Certain medication, such as steroids, tranquilizers, and psoriasis medication, can cause cataracts when taken in large doses over a long period of time. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk.
Of course, sometimes cataracts cannot be prevented. However, further research is being done all the time, and new theories are being tested on cataract prevention and reduction. Make sure to stay educated and you’ll be more likely to live a life of unclouded vision.