What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a common eye condition that affects the lens of the eye. When a cataract forms, the clear lens of the eye becomes clouded. This leads to blurred vision, making it difficult to complete tasks such as reading, driving, or watching TV. Cataracts tend to affect older adults, especially those over 60, and can be treated by visiting your eye doctor.
Typically, in its early stages, cataracts may only affect a small part of your eye, making it difficult to recognize the symptoms or detect any sort of vision loss. As the cataract grows over time, you may notice the occurrence of some, if not all, of the symptoms below.
- Clouded or blurred vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Light and glare sensitivity
- Seeing “halos” around light sources
- Double vision
- Fading or dimming of colors
- Requiring a brighter light source to read
- Lens of your eyes becoming noticeably cloudy
Luckily, none of the symptoms above are painful, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Book an appointment with your doctor if you are showing signs of the symptoms above or notice any other changes in your eyesight. If you experience sudden eye pain or headaches, be sure to call your doctor right away.
It’s important to be aware of the risk factors that increase your chance of developing cataracts so that you can do your best to minimize them.
- Increasing age, especially if over 60
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive sunlight exposure
- Previous eye injury
- Previous eye surgery
How to Prevent Cataracts
While there is no proven method of prevention, there are several lifestyle choices and doctor recommended tips that can help you minimize the risk of cataracts, some of which directly address the risk factors listed above.
- Quit Smoking – It goes without saying that smoking is bad for your body in numerous ways and this includes negatively affecting your eye health. Smoking is a risk factor that you have control over and it’s never too late to quit smoking. If you don’t smoke – good job and don’t start.
- Wear Sunglasses – Sunglasses are a great way to protect your eyes from excessive sunlight exposure and harmful UV rays that damage the proteins in the lens of your eye.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption – You don’t have to cut out all the alcohol in your life, but excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of cataracts.
- Monitor Your Blood Sugar – If you have diabetes, you’re probably already aware of the importance of monitoring your blood sugar levels and keeping them regulated. Doing so also helps reduce your risk of developing cataracts.
- Eat Healthy – Choosing a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C and E are a great way to reduce the risk of cataracts.
- Schedule Regular Eye Exams – Scheduling regular exams with your eye doctor is the best way to proactively detect signs of cataracts or other eye diseases. Speak with your eye doctor to determine how often you should schedule an eye exam depending on your age, health, and other risk factors.
For more information on protecting your eyes, preventing eye disease, and other general eye health tips, visit the Look Optometry