According to the National Eye Institute, more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. develop cataracts by age 80. However, this eye condition can develop in people of any age. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness.
You cannot stop aging or choose whether this condition runs in your family. However, you can control some risk factors to lower your risk or delay the development of cataracts. You should contact your eye doctor to discuss all the available options for diagnosing and managing this condition.
A cataract is a cloudy spot in the eye’s lens caused by the clumping together of proteins in the lens. When this happens, the lens loses its clarity, leading to blurred vision. It can lead to blindness if left untreated. Clouded vision caused by cataracts is like looking through a fogged-up or frosty window. It can make reading, driving, or seeing facial expressions difficult.
Cataracts usually develop due to aging, but research shows that certain factors can increase your risk of developing them. These include:
Eye injury or eye surgery
Cataracts cause no pain and typically develop slowly. The key to controlling this condition is early detection. That is why people over 65 should get regular eye exams. But no matter your age, you should take steps to prevent or slow the development of cataracts. Do not wait until symptoms start appearing. Some of the steps to take include:
Always wear anti-UV sunglasses while outdoors to protect your eyes. UV-B rays are especially harmful to your eyes. If you dislike sunglasses, you can wear regular glasses with a UV-blocking coating for outdoor and indoor protection. Consult your eye doctor about your options and the benefit of each type of eyewear.
Cigarettes pose a significant health risk and can also increase your risk of developing cataracts. If you need another reason to quit smoking, think about your vision. Excess alcohol consumption can also increase your chances of developing this eye condition. So, enjoy your alcohol in moderation if you like going out with friends.
Eat a healthy diet containing the necessary vitamins and nutrients your eyes and body crave. Consume foods containing vitamins C and E and zeaxanthin and lutein. If you already have cataracts, foods rich in these vitamins and nutrients can help slow their progression.
People who have diabetes understand the importance of controlling their blood sugar levels. According to eye care professionals, controlling your blood sugar can also help prevent cataracts. Your eye lens will begin swelling and converting blood sugar into sorbitol if your levels remain too high for too long. When this happens, you may experience distorted vision, and a cataract may develop.
Regular comprehensive eye exams are the best way to maintain your ocular health. These exams will allow your eye doctor to detect any disturbances or changes in your eye and vision before symptoms become apparent.
For more on cataracts, call Raleigh Eye Center at (919) 899-247 for our Raleigh, Durham, Reidsville, North Carolina, or South Hill, Virginia, offices.