Due to the fact the leading cause of blindness in individuals across the globe over the age of 40 is cataracts, it is no surprise that June was declared National Cataract Awareness Month. And what better way to raise awareness for such a widespread eye disease than to define, and discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatment options of cataracts.
What are cataracts you may wonder? Well, they are the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil making it difficult to see the world around you.
What causes cataracts?
The lens inside the eye contains both water & protein, which is organized in a specific manner that preserves the clarity of the lens in order for light to effectively pass through it. As time progresses, some of this protein can stick together and begin to cloud small sections of the lens. As this cloud develops, it can become increasingly difficult for the individual to see.
Although age is by far one of the largest contributing factors to the development of cataracts below are some other risk factors to consider:
• Hormone replacement therapy
• Exposure to radiation from x-rays & cancer treatments
• Family history
• Too much sun exposure
• High myopia
• Heavy alcohol use
• High blood pressure
• Previous eye injury or surgery
• Long-term use of specific medications
• Statin medicines for cholesterol reduction
What are the symptoms?
• Clouded, blurred or dim vision
• Trouble seeing at night
• Sensitivity to light and glare
• Fading or yellowing of colors
• Increased sensitivity to glare
• Halos surrounding lights
• Double vision in the affected eye
• A need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
What are the treatment options?
In the preliminary stages, your doctor can help manage symptoms through the use of updated prescriptions eyeglasses with anti-glare coating and the strict use of sunglasses when outdoors. However, surgery should be considered a serious option once an individual’s vision starts to become increasingly impaired even when wearing prescription eyewear.
How can you prevent cataracts?
There’s some controversy around whether cataracts can truly be prevented. But studies have found a variety of helpful solutions mainly pertaining to diet and nutrition. For example, foods with high levels of vitamin E and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce one’s risk of developing cataracts. Great food sources of these nutrients are:
- Sunflower seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
In addition, produce rich in vitamin C may also reduce your risk of developing the symptoms of cataracts. A recommended daily intake of 55 to 230 milligrams through vitamin C-rich foods vs. supplements could help your vision as it’s an antioxidant that helps coat the lens of the eye. Some fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C include:
- Red & Green Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
In addition to these dietary recommendations, make sure to wear protective sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays when going outdoors. Furthermore, everyone over the age of 40 should have a regular comprehensive eye exam to check for signs of cataracts and other eye conditions.
For more information on cataracts, or to schedule an appointments with one of the doctors of Nationwide Optometry call 1-800-EYECARE or visit nationwidevision.com.