What are Cataracts and How Can I Prevent Them?

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over the age 40. That’s a big reason why each person should learn about the disease and begin preventing it. Cataracts are a relatively simple condition – the lens of the eye becomes cloudy over time. Vision is greatly affected and total vision loss could occur with cataracts. The good news is that they aren’t painful and the onset is slow, which means that there is plenty of time to proactively treat the disease and save vision from deterioration.

Cataracts defined

Cataracts are the name for the condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and white. This occurs with aging. It can occur in one or both eyes, but one eye is usually more severely affected than the other. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.

Why does the lens become cloudy with age?

It’s because of the proteins in the lens clumping together. The proteins in the eye begin to clump together from deterioration that occurs over time. Some things are believed to be risk factors for cataracts, including diabetes and smoking.

Since the lens is affected, vision is affected

According to the National Eye Institute, the lens is responsible for focusing light or images onto the retina. Normally, light passes through a clear lens to provide a sharp image to the retina. When the lens becomes cloudy, so does the image. The result is blurred or clouded vision.

How will I know if I have cataracts?

Cataracts are interesting because it often takes several years for symptoms to appear after the disease actually appears. It is possible to have the disease for some time and not even know it.   Symptoms include:

  • Blurry or clouded vision
  • Poor vision in darker rooms
  • Glare caused by very bright lights
  • Difficulty reading or seeing small type
  • Brown tinted vision
  • Double vision
  • Needing new glasses prescription often

How Can I Prevent Cataracts?

Certain risk factors for cataracts have been identified. They include health factors, lifestyle choices and environmental dangers. Many of the factors are things that can be limited or prevented. If you want to limit your risk of developing cataracts, follow these 5 tips.

  1. Stop smoking – smoking makes it more likely that you’ll develop cataracts, and you could even develop them earlier in life.
  1. Keep your diabetes and other conditions in check – having uncontrolled diabetes, blood pressure, or other conditions could increase your risk of eye disease, so work with your doctor and maintain your treatment plan.
  1. Limit your eyes’ exposure to sunlight – UV radiation isn’t good for your eyes, so wearing sunglasses that filter out UV rays while limiting your exposure to sunlight is a good idea.
  1. Eat right and take eye health supplements – your eyes greatly benefit from good nutrition, and getting the right nutrients, such as antioxidants and beta carotene, can help you avoid cataracts.
  1. Get plenty of rest – sound sleep assures that your eyes will get the rest they need so that they can repair themselves and get ready for a new day; shoot for at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and rest your eyes during the day when necessary.

Above all, see your eye doctor

Perhaps the most important piece of the cataracts prevention puzzle is seeing your eye doctor regularly. Catching the disease early can ensure proper treatment and minimization of vision loss. Your yearly eye exam is the best place to catch cataracts. Schedule your exam at Advanced Eye Medical today by calling 1-888-439-6565.