Eye doctors everywhere hear these questions all the time: “Does everyone get cataracts?” and “Is there anything I can do to prevent cataracts?” Chances are, if you’re over the age of 50, you are asking the same things.
Since ageing is the number one factor for developing cataracts, our chances are pretty high. In fact, by age 65, at least half of us will have one. However, there are action steps you can take towards improving eye health that may also be beneficial with respect to cataracts.
Here are the top seven risk factors for cataracts and strategies you can use to help minimize them:
1. Reaching age 40
The lens of the eye is primarily made up of proteins and water. Sometime around age 40, these proteins start to break down and clump together. This can eventually cause a cloudy area, known as a cataract, on the eye’s lens.
True. You can’t stop time. But you can get regular eye examinations. Even if your vision is crisp and clear, regular visits to a qualified eye doctor are important. Your eye doctor will evaluate the health of your eyes and check for early signs of cataracts, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Early intervention is key in managing these conditions.
2. Diabetes and other health conditions
People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts compared with non-diabetics. Other health conditions such as high blood pressure also increase the risk of cataract development.
Keeping your glucose levels well controlled and your blood pressure in a normal range may help keep your eyes’ lenses clear and healthy for a longer period of time. Working closely with your doctor to maintain overall health may also have a positive effect on your eyes.
3. Certain medications
Certain medications may be lifesaving, but may also increase the likelihood of developing a cataract, particularly with prolonged usage.
Be sure to keep your eye doctor informed about any medications you are taking, whether prescribed to you or purchased over the counter. Regular eye exams are a valuable time to share information about your overall health and medication usage with your eye doctor.
4. Excessive exposure to sunlight
Sun does provide you with needed vitamin D, but too much can be harmful to your eyes. Research shows that ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to cataract growth.
Sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays. To reduce your exposure, wear sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection in all seasons. Wearing a wide brimmed hat is also a good idea to help protect your eyes from the sun.
While obesity is a well-known risk factor for other health conditions, many people are surprised to discover that it is also associated with certain types of cataracts.
Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce risk of cataracts. Eating a nutrient-rich diet and exercising regularly may also be helpful, independent of weight loss. Some studies show that vitamins and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables may play a role in reducing the risk of cataracts. A consistent diet of whole, unprocessed foods that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables will help you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain healthy eyes. Additionally, exercise raises oxygen levels in the cells and increases blood circulation, which revitalizes organs and glands. It’s good for the whole body, including the eyes.
6. Smoking and alcohol
Doctors have found a relationship between smoking and higher chances of developing cataracts. In fact, smokers have double the risk than non-smokers. There is also evidence to suggest that alcohol consumption may be linked to cataracts.
Quitting smoking is good for your overall health, and that definitely includes your eyes. While the relationship between alcohol and cataracts is not as clearly understood, it’s a good idea to enjoy beer, wine and cocktails in moderation.
7. Previous eye injuries or surgeries
Not all cataracts are age-related. Eye injuries and even some surgeries also increase the risk of developing cataracts.
Of course you can’t change the past, but you can be sure that your doctor understands your full eye health history.
The IC-8 Lens Advantage
If you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract and are considering cataract surgery, be sure to discuss replacement lens options with your doctor. Learn more about the IC-8 lens. The IC-8 lens offers many advantages over traditional (monofocal) and multifocal IOLs. It is designed to provide a natural range of vision from near to far, including mid-range vision needed to read a computer screen. With the IC-8 lens, one can achieve continuous and seamless vision at all distances.