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At a young age, we often ignore advice like ‘don’t use your phone in the dark’ or ‘brush your teeth twice’ and many more, not giving a second thought to how our bad habits can result in problems in the future.
But now, knowing how to prevent cataracts is imperative because it is one of the leading causes of blindness.
So how to prevent cataracts and save yourself from going blind? A few lifestyle changes will help lower the chances of you getting a risk of cataracts.
How to Prevent Cataracts?
Cataracts are common nowadays in age brackets 55 and above. It is advisable to go for routine visits to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts in the early stages and prevent cataract surgery. Cataracts 1can happen at any age, but it is around 60 when you feel your vision is declining.
The natural lens behind the eyes starts becoming hazy as age advances, and in most cataracts, the light passing through this lens gets blocked.
The risk of cataracts tends to be high as the lens focuses light on the retina. With age, the tissues around the lens clump together, and the clouding becomes more.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is when your normal vision gets blurred and slowly leads to blindness and vision loss. Cataracts block light from reaching the retina, and the process of losing vision will be gradual.
Not everyone has vision loss that requires medical intervention, but since it is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness, it is better to get regularly checked by an eye doctor.
Cataracts are not infectious; they do not infect the other eye if you get it in one eye. The lens can be damaged by high glucose levels, high sugar, and diabetes.
The eye’s lens bloat when your blood sugar goes high, and that can cause hazy vision. It also causes blood sugar glucose into sorbitol which can again cause blurry vision.
Symptoms of Cataract
How do you know you have a cataract? What are the symptoms? A cataract occurs in old age, affecting vision in one eye or both eyes.
Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts are:
- Blurry Vision
- Difficulty in reading and driving
- Faded colours
- Halos around the lights
- Double vision
- Bad nighttime vision
- Headaches due to constant changes in eye prescription
- Eye pain
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should go to an eye doctor and get your eye tested.
How to Check for Cataracts?
A regular eye test with additional tests will help your eye doctor know if you have a cataract or not or require cataract surgery. The doctor might dilate your eyes to enlarge your pupils, and he can see more of your eye and diagnose the problem correctly.
There are four types of cataracts: cortical cataracts, congenital cataracts, nuclear sclerotic cataracts, and posterior subcapsular cataracts. Different lens areas can get affected, classified according to their location and origin.
In advanced cataract cases, cataract surgery is done to correct vision after an eye exam.
The outer part of the lens is called the cortex, and in cortical cataracts, this part will have cloudy lenses.
This cataract in infants can be hereditary or due to trauma3, metabolic problems, certain infections, diabetes, inflammation, some antibiotics, or specific drug reactions.
Nuclear Sclerotic Cataract
These age-related cataracts are the most common types of cataracts, and it causes hardening in the nucleus, which is the central part of the lens.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataract
This cataract is common in patients who have taken corticosteroid medications for an extended period and in diabetic patients. Oral steroids4 also cause posterior subcapsular cataracts.
This cataract causes light sensitivity, blurred near vision, and halos around the lights.
Risk Factors in Developing Cataracts
These are some of the risk factors associated with cataract development that can enhance the risk of developing cataracts:
- Age – 55 years and above
- Eye injury
- Eye surgery
- High blood pressure
- Long-term usage of steroid medications, especially eye drops
- Family history
- Coming into contact with harmful chemicals
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
How to Prevent Cataracts?
Reasons for developing cataracts are many, and cataract prevention, to a certain extent, can be done by making significant lifestyle changes, and early detection of cataracts helps get them treated.
A bit of care will help prevent cataracts naturally. Let us look at some health tips and see how to prevent cataracts naturally, which might help you avoid getting cataract surgery done.
Wear Sunglasses and Protect Your Eyes
Ultraviolet light, both UVA 5and UVB rays, is harmful to the eyes, and the best way to protect your eyes is by wearing sunglasses.
Avoid the sun between 11 AM and 3 PM and choose shades that will block out 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Ensure that you wear sunglasses every time you step out in the sun because they protect you from the harshness of sun rays and UV light and make you look cool and bright.
This is one of the easiest ways if you are looking how to prevent cataracts by bringing in changes in your lifestyle. Always carry sunshades with you in your handbag and use them if you are out between 11 AM and 3 PM.
Eat Healthily, Eat Right
While looking at how to prevent cataracts, one thing that needs to be given importance is the food you eat. Follow a healthy diet that will benefit your eye and overall health.
It is believed that eating foods high in vitamins C and E can prevent cataracts and is one of the best things to do if you are looking for ways how to prevent cataracts. It can slow down the growth of your cataract if you already have it.
Instead of taking vitamin C supplements, try including these foods in your diet. Broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, guava, grapes, lychees6, oranges, and strawberries are good sources of Vitamin C that can be included in your dietary intake to reduce your risk of cataracts.
For vitamin E, you can include avocadoes, almonds, collard greens, hazelnuts, mangoes, peanut butter, etc., in your food intake, and if in earlier stages, it might help to prevent cataracts or slow it down.
Dark green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which stop cataract formation. Include spinach, kale, and Swiss chard more in your diet so that more lutein and zeaxanthin go into your body. It gives a reduced risk of cataracts.
Orange-coloured fruits have beta-carotene. Lutein and zeaxanthin are good to eat if you are looking for natural ways to prevent cataracts. It is suitable for the retina and other parts of the eye.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and salmon are suitable for the risk of developing cataracts and vision disorders.
Eggs also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, an instant source of carotenoids. You may not limit having eggs for breakfast; it can be included during other meal times.
Research shows that those who smoke regularly are prone to cataracts, and if you are a smoker and want to know how to prevent cataracts, the best way would be to quit smoking. It will reduce your risk factors considerably and is one of the suitable methods of cataract prevention.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excess alcohol consumption is harmful to your overall health and eyes and can increase the risk of developing cataracts. If you have too much alcohol, it is detrimental to your eyes, and overall health, and can cause other medical conditions.
Regular Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure levels
Regular blood sugar and blood pressure levels reduce your risk of cataracts and keep your eyes healthy and vision clear for a more extended period. Go for regular checkups to see if your sugar levels and blood pressure are normal.
Eye Check-Up Regularly
If you are looking for ways how to prevent cataracts, the best way is to get an eye exam done regularly. If detected in the early stages, you can reduce your risk of having cataract surgery done.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can cataracts be cured?
Aside from cataract surgery, there is no other way to cure or remove cataracts after they have formed.
2. Can a 21-year-old have cataracts?
A cataract in a young person is rare, but not impossible. So, it is better to get checked to see if no other underlying problem persists.
3. What is the main cause of cataract?
The majority of cataracts arise as a result of aging or injury to the tissue that forms up the lens of the eye. Proteins in the eyes start to degrade, resulting in blurry or unclear vision.
A good lifestyle and diet-rich foods are good ways to prevent cataracts naturally and reduce the risk of cataracts as you grow older.
Maintaining healthy blood sugar and following a good diet lowers your cataract risk, other vision disorders, and health risks. Follow a healthy diet, check your blood sugar levels, deal with your health problems, and keep your eye lens protected and safe.
Stay safe and healthy!
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