Did you know that cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss for individuals over the age of 40? In fact, according to Prevent Blindness America, there are more cases worldwide of this lens-clouding condition than glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy combined.
But fear not! No matter what your age, there are steps you can take to help prevent cataracts or slow their development. Today, cataract surgery, in which cloudy lenses are removed and replaced with synthetic implants, is helping millions of Americans see better than ever before.
Don't wait until your vision becomes affected to start thinking about cataracts—read on to discover a healthy tip you can tackle today!
Keep your vices in check
It's no secret that cigarettes pose a litany of health risks to you and those around you. But did you know it affects your eye health too? "Research suggests that smoking increases your chances of developing cataracts," explains Vivek Jain, MD, a VSP doctor at Beach Eye Care in Virginia Beach, VA. So if you need another reason to put down the pack, think about the future of your vision.
Have plans to head out to happy hour this week? Just remember to enjoy your beer, wine, and cocktails in moderation. Like cigarettes, excess alcohol consumption can pose a number of health risks, one of which is an increased chance of developing cataracts.
Studies suggest that those with diabetes are at greater risk for developing cataracts. That's why maintaining healthy blood sugar is so important—for both your overall health, and the health of your vision.
But a healthy diet should be a priority for all of us. "We always encourage our patients to eat lots of leafy greens," explains Dr. Jain. "Vitamin supplements are also a great way to make up for those nutrients we don't get enough of in our diet." Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E may also help ward off cataract development.
Shade your eyes from the sun
We've said it before and we'll say it again—protect yourself from UV rays and your eyes will thank you! "Ultraviolet light can hasten the formation of cataracts," explains Dr. Jain, "even in younger patients."
To reduce your exposure, wear a wide brimmed hat when spending time outdoors and always keep shades with UVA/UVB protection close at hand, no matter what the season.
Visit your eye doctor
Even if your vision is clear and healthy, make it a priority to schedule yearly eye exams. Routine visits allow your eye care professional to look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other vision disorders. This early detection just may save your sight!