Usually associated with aging, a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. They are the most common form of vision loss for those over 40 and the major cause of blindness in the world. There are 3 types of cataracts:
- Cortical, which starts in the periphery of the lens and moves inward, toward the center.
- Nuclear, which forms in the center of the lens and is usually caused by aging.
- Subcapsular, which occurs at the back of the lens, more common in those who have diabetes.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
At first, cataracts might not be noticeable. At some point you will notice blurring of your vision. You may also find that lights throw off a glare and colors aren’t as clear as they once were.
There are risk factors for developing cataracts, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and over use of alcohol. Others are side effects from certain medications such as statins, smoking and having a family history of cataracts.
To prevent cataracts:
- Eat a healthy diet which is high in anti-oxidants. Include spinach which is high in vitamin E, foods with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C.
- Wear sunglasses which provide 100% protection against UV rays.
- Cut down on smoking and alcohol intake or quit altogether.
- Keep within a healthy weight. Adding more vegetables to your diet and cutting out red meat while stepping up the amount of exercise you do will help.
Cataracts are treatable. If your symptoms are just beginning you can improve your vision with bifocals and by using extra lighting in your home. If your loss of vision increases, cataract surgery has shown to be very successful in restoring eyesight. 90% of those who have the surgery have regained good vision.
This August during Cataract Awareness Month, make an appointment with your optometrist and have an eye checkup. The sooner cataracts are caught, the sooner you can do something to help retain and regain your vision.