Cataracts are most commonly caused by age. This type of cataract could begin developing as early as a person's 40s or 50s. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 25 million Americans age 40 and older are affected by cataracts. About half of Americans have a cataract by age 75.
So what can you do today to prevent your risk? While there isn't a proven way to avoid cataracts, there are lifestyle changes that the medical community agrees can lower your risk. We discuss those below.
Get Routine Eye Exams
Early detection can help you avoid serious vision problems. Even if your vision seems fine now, it is a good idea to get routine eye exams every 1-2 years. Experienced ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Walton will recommend an eye exam frequency based on your age, vision, eye health and risk factors.
Eat Healthy, Nutritious Foods
Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants promote healthy eyes and healthy vision. Just like other organs in your body, your eyes are nourished by what you eat. Research has shown the following foods to be smart options:
- Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, etc.)
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
- Fruits, legumes and vegetables rich in vitamins C and E (citrus, strawberries, nuts, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, etc.)
A diet rich in these nourishing foods can help you prevent cataracts.
Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do to prevent cataracts. We know that smoking is a risk factor for this eye disease. That's because the habit produces chemicals called free radicals, which damage cells and hinder the beneficial effects of antioxidants. It's never too late to quit! Even if you've been smoking for decades, quitting today can only improve your health and wellness.
Also, some research has shown that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day could increase your cataract risk. Enjoy alcohol in moderation to reduce the risk of cataracts and other health problems.
Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
Ultraviolet light from the sun changes your eyes, sometimes detrimentally. Some research suggests that prolonged, unprotected exposure to UV rays increases the risk of cataracts. Fortunately, properly rated UV-blocking sunglasses effectively protect your eyes. Choose a pair that says it blocks out 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Add a wide-brim hat for extra protection.
Seek Treatment for Diabetes and other Health Conditions
Living with diabetes means you are more likely to have cataracts. By managing your diabetes, and any other health conditions diagnosed by your doctor, you can better protect your vision and eye health.
Get Customized Eye Care Tips
Think you may be experiencing symptoms of cataracts? Or are you interested in a consultation to get custom eye health advice? If you live in or around Mobile, Alabama, please call the practice of experienced ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Walton at 251-341-3385. We are happy to answer your questions and to arrange an appointment for you at our comfortable, friendly office.