Cataracts affect nearly 25 million people aged 40 and older in the United States, not to mention half of people by the time they reach the age of 75. If you conclude from these numbers that age plays a large role in this vision-robbing condition, you’d be correct.
While age may be the primary risk factor for cataracts, it isn’t the only one. In fact, there are ways that you can ward off cataracts or slow their progression, a few of which Dr. Curtis Frank and the team here at Vision and Ortho-K outline below.
Cataracts at a glance
The reason why age is the primary risk factor for cataracts is because this condition is caused by a clouding in the lenses in your eyes. After the age of 40, proteins in the lenses in your eyes begin to break down and clump together, forming a cataract.
As these clumps grow in number and size, you can slowly lose vision.
Addressing your risk factors for cataracts
While the topic of this blog is about steps you can take to prevent cataracts, we’re going to approach it from the opposite angle — addressing factors that place you more at risk for the eye condition.
Some of the factors that raise your risk for cataracts, speed up cataracts, and/or cause them to form prematurely, include:
- Medications with steroids
- Sun exposure
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
If you have one or more of these risk factors, a good way to prevent or slow cataracts is to address — and mitigate — these factors. So, choose whichever may be applicable, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, protecting your eyes from sun exposure, and managing your blood sugar levels. If you’re taking medications with steroids in them, you can ask your doctor about alternatives.
Supporting your eye health
Once you address your risk factors for cataracts, there are ways that you can better your eye health to keep the condition at bay.
To that end, we want to spend some time discussing key nutrients that support eye health. Here’s a list of these nutrients with an example or two of foods that contain them:
- Omega-3 fats — salmon, nuts, avocados
- Vitamin C — citrus fruits, kiwifruit, bell peppers
- Vitamin E — seeds and nuts
- Beta carotene — carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli
- Lutein and zeaxanthin — egg yolks, spinach, kale
We present this list to get you started and you can research some of your own food choices. Bear in mind, you can also find these nutrients in the form of supplements.
Outside of eating well to promote great eye health, be sure to protect your eyes as best you can with safety glasses whenever warranted and drink a lot of water to keep them hydrated.
For more suggestions about preventing, slowing, or treating cataracts, we invite you to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Boston or Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts.