“Can I prevent cataracts?” is a frequently heard question in eye doctor’s offices around the world. While the there is no scientific proof that cataracts can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk factors for developing a cataract. Here are five:
1. Get regular eye exams
Seeing your eye doctor regularly may be the single best thing you could do for your eyes. Even if you’ve never needed vision correction before and you consider your eyes to be healthy, regular eye exams are the best way to detect problems early on. Some eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma may not cause any symptoms in the early stages and the only way to detect them is through an eye exam by a qualified eye doctor. So how often should you have your eyes examined? Most eye care experts recommend every one to two years depending on your age and risk factors and whether or not you currently wear corrective lenses. If you haven’t had an eye exam in a while, now is the perfect time to call your doctor.
2. Quit smoking (and cut back on alcohol consumption)
It’s common knowledge that smoking is known to cause heart disease and lung cancer, but what you may not realize is that it can also lead to vision loss. Studies show that smoking increases the risk of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. In fact, people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day have up to three times the risk of cataracts as people who don’t smoke. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it just might be one of the best things you could do for your eyes.
3. Get moving
We all know that exercise can help us to maintain a healthy weight and protect our heart, but did you know that it might also help protect you from vision loss? While studies in this area are just beginning, early indicators point to exercise reducing the risk of developing cataracts. And that’s one more great reason to lace up those sneakers and go for a walk.
4. Wear sunglasses
Many studies show that exposure to UV light can increase the risk of cataract and other eye diseases. Because the harmful rays of UV light are invisible, it can be easy to forget about how they might be affecting the lens of our eyes. That’s why it’s important to wear sunglasses outdoors, even on a cloudy day. Wearing sunglasses that offer UV protection reduces your exposure and lowers your risk of developing cataracts. And that’s a great reason to reach for those shades when heading outside.
5. Eat a diet rich in nutrients
Although the exact cause of cataracts is unknown, experts believe that oxidative stress damages the proteins in the eye’s natural lens, causing it to become cloudy. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between damaging free radicals (molecules that are highly reactive with other molecules) and antioxidants that keep them in check. Antioxidants can be found in certain fruits and vegetables, particularly in leafy green vegetables. So, adding “eye-friendly” dark green and colorful vegetables and fruits to your diet can actually lower your risk of developing cataracts.
Studies show that making lifestyle changes, like those listed above, can reduce the risks of developing cataracts and other eye diseases.
Healthy habits can lead to healthy eyes.
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