Cataracts are a very common eye condition, affecting more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older. They are also a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Although there is no true medical way to prevent this eye condition, Houston cataract surgeons recommend understanding how what we eat and drink, as well as the amounts of vitamins and minerals we are metabolizing, may help reduce the risk of developing them.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and pupil (the black circle in the middle of the eye). The lens works much like the lens of a camera, focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye so we can see clearly.
A cataract can occur in one or both eyes and usually develops slowly, causing gradual vision loss. Symptoms of a cataract include:
- Blurry or fuzzy vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Brighter colors may seem faded
People with cataracts often say that it feels like they are looking through a dirty or smudged window.
Risk Factors for Developing Cataracts
While there is no known definitive cause of cataracts, there are several factors that seem to increase your risk of developing them, including:
- A family history of the condition
- Previous eye injuries
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
- Excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure
While there is no definitive way to prevent cataracts, taking factors into account and making changes where possible may help reduce your risk of developing them.
Additionally, managing medical conditions such as diabetes with regular check-ups and medications as prescribed by your doctor can help to prevent cataracts or slow their progression.
Do Antioxidants And Vitamins Prevent Cataracts?
The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, yet some experts theorize that oxidative stress damages enzymes and proteins in the eye’s natural lens. This stress causes the lens to become cloudy. Several studies have shown that eating a healthy diet rich in certain vitamins and antioxidants may reduce your risk of developing cataracts.
Oxidation affects proteins and fats in the eye’s lens. The lens becomes damaged creating a cloud-like cataract. Preventing damage from free radicals with healthy foods containing antioxidants may help slow down this process.
Free radicals that damage our eyes may also occur as a result of exposure to pollution, chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and smoking.
Diet And Cataracts Prevention
Consistently following a healthy diet that includes colorful vegetables, fruits and whole grains may correlate to a decreased risk of cataracts. Good food sources to reduce your risk of developing cataracts are vitamins A, C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin.
Consuming fish high in omega-3 fatty acids also has been linked to potentially reducing the risk of cataracts or cataract progression.
When Cataracts Can’t Be Prevented, They Can Be Treated
If your vision is becoming cloudy, you are losing your color perception, or if you’re having trouble seeing at night, you may be already in the early stages of developing cataracts. The majority of men and women will develop them if they live long enough. A cataract surgeon is the ideal person to diagnose this condition.
Currently, there are no treatments to reverse or prevent cataracts from developing, but cataract surgery can help you achieve clear vision. This treatment is one of the most common and successful medical procedures performed today.
Sometimes, though, a person who thinks they are suffering from cataracts may just be experiencing the worsening of pre-existing vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness. In this case, LASIK may be an answer to your visual concerns.
Schedule a Cataract Evaluation Today
If you think you might be suffering from cataracts, call (713) 526-1600 the experienced cataract surgeons at Berkeley Eye Center today to find out if you are a candidate for cataract surgery or even LASIK!