The clouding of the eye’s lens over time is referred to as a cataract. A cataract begins when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina.
Those that are on the path to developing cataract can slow its progression by making healtheir lifestyle choices and habits that lead to the formation of cataract in the first place.
Measures to Delay Cataract
While age may be the primary risk factor for developing cataracts, there are some health-related risk factors that you may be able to control.
Most of these recommendations are based on factors that are known or suspected to contribute to cataracts, rather than strong evidence that they can prevent the disorder.
No studies have produced solid evidence on how to prevent cataracts, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There are, however, steps that may reduce your cataract risk:
Protect Your Eyes from Harmful Ultraviolet Rays
Wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays may help prevent or slow the development of cataracts. Ultraviolet B rays are especially harmful to your eyes, so it’s important to look for glasses that provide this protection specifically.
Wear protective sunglasses any time you’re outside during daylight, not only when the sun is especially bright or shining at an angle that disturbs your vision. If you’d rather not wear sunglasses outside or are looking for protection when you’re indoors, you can also wear regular clear glasses with a UV-blocking coating.
Talk to your doctor about your options and the benefits of each type of protective glasses.
See an Eye Doctor Regularly
Visiting your eye doctor can help you stay aware of your cataract status and learn about measures that could help prevent or manage the condition.
And once you’ve started to develop cataracts, it’s important to track your condition through regular appointments. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be stopping by for an office visit.
Generally, adults over age 60 should have a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years, according to the National Eye Institute
Avoid Steroid Eye Drops
Steroid eye drops are used to treat dry eyes and arthritic flare-ups in the eyes. These steroids mimic the effects of cortisol in the body to reduce inflammation.
While steroid eye drops are useful when used correctly, they can have damaging side effects which include speeding up the progression of cataracts.
Health Problems Related to Cataract
Certain chronic health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure, contribute to the development of cataracts.
If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to keep your blood sugar under control to limit any eye damage caused by a high glucose level.
While many aren’t surprised to learn that obesity is associated with these health issues, patients may be surprised to learn that obesity is also linked to the development of cataracts. This may be because obesity increases the risk of diseases that are associated with eye diseases, specifically diabetes.
Maintaining a healthy body mass index through diet and exercise is one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent obesity and its many related health problems, including cataracts. Be sure to take drugs you’ve been prescribed for high blood pressure and regularly check your pressure. If you find that your blood pressure isn’t where it’s supposed to be, talk to your doctor about changing or intensifying your treatment.
Smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco can cause cardiovascular problems, including problems in the blood vessels of your eyes.
Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit smoking, especially if you’ve struggled with it in the past. Helpful options may include medications, counselling, and other medical and motivation-based strategies.
Avoid Excess Intake of Alcohol
Consuming large amounts of alcohol has been tied to a higher risk of cataracts.
If you’re addicted to alcohol or believe you need help reducing your alcohol consumption, talk to your doctor about getting the support you need. Medications, individual counselling, and group-based therapy may help you drink less or stop drinking.
Follow a Healthy Diet
A balanced, varied diet that includes large amounts of fruits and vegetables helps ensure that you’re not lacking any vitamins or other nutrients needed for optimal eye health.
Fruits and vegetables tend to have high levels of antioxidant compounds, which have been shown in studies to support eye and vision health.
Consumption of fish has been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts. Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which has been cited to reduce cataract progression.
Stay hydrated by consuming 8-10 glasses of water daily. Dehydration can hasten the development of cataracts.
While studies have shown that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can reduce your risk of cataracts, this benefit hasn’t been shown with vitamin pills and other supplements, according to the Mayo Clinic. Supplements in some instances have even been shown to have harmful effects, so the safest way to increase your intake of these helpful nutrients is to eat foods in which they occur naturally.
Prevention: a Challenge
It may be difficult to completely prevent cataracts from progressing, but by taking these guidelines into consideration, we hope you’ll be able to help lead a cataract-free life!
Surgery for cataracts doesn’t prevent it from getting worse. Instead, it removes the affected lens of your eye entirely. Because it can only remove, not repair, a damaged lens in your eye, surgery for cataracts is recommended only when the condition is severe enough to disrupt your daily life.
Living a healthy lifestyle will greatly reduce your chances of developing cataracts.