Cataracts are a very common eye disease that involves the progressive clouding of your eye lenses. Though a cataract diagnosis may lead to an eventual surgery, taking control of your cataracts – by getting regular eye exams, communicating with your doctor, and practicing these preventative measures – will help preserve your vision and prevent the need for cataract surgery in the near future.
The National Eye Institute recommends wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) and high-energy visible (HEV) light, particularly during peak sun exposure hours between 10 am and 3 pm. Look for sunglasses with large or close-fitting, wraparound lenses that block one hundred percent of UV rays and absorb most HEV rays. Remember, the sun’s rays can pass through clouds, so you will need your sunglasses every day.
Though doctors routinely prescribe steroid eye drops to treat dry eyes or arthritic flare-ups in the eyes, long-term use can also speed up the progression of cataracts. Talk to your optometrist about how you can effectively manage both conditions.
More than 300 commonly prescribed medications have side effects impacting cataract progression. Since a primary care physician may not have access to your records from your optometrist, be sure to ask your doctor if your current medications will affect your cataracts. If you must keep your prescription, ensure you closely follow other preventative measures.
Smoking comes with many detriments, including doubling or even tripling an individual’s risk of developing cataracts. By quitting now, you can slow or prevent the development or progression of cataracts.
Studies have shown that adding foods rich in antioxidants to your diet may help to slow the progression of cataracts and reduce other age-related declines in eye health. Some antioxidant-rich foods include dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, pecans, carrots, sweet potatoes, artichokes, kale, red cabbage, beans, beets, spinach, apples, and plums. Developing a low-inflammatory diet may have similar benefits.
Doctors also recommend eating more fish high in omega-3 fatty acids or multivitamins containing vitamins C and E to potentially inhibit both the development and progression of cataracts. They may also suggest limiting processed carbohydrates, which can further reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
Fortunately, adopting these modified diets can prevent other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. However, no one diet fits every patient, so make sure to develop a plan with your doctor or nutritionist that both helps prevent cataracts and best suits you and your overall health.