Age-related cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in the United States. The prevalence of age-related cataracts is increasing, with an estimated 30.1 million Americans likely to be affected by the year 2020.
What exactly is a cataract?
Within the eye there is a lens that is transparent and allows your eye to see clearly. As you age, the proteins in the lens will change and makes the clear lens start to become cloudy resulting in cataracts.
Since cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss in people over age 40, Dr. Mark Ballif of Utah Eye Centers shared five tips on how to slow down the progression of cataract formation.
Get Regular Eye Exams
Dr. Ballif said, "Cataracts can significantly change vision at any age, but we see the majority of patients with cataracts in people over the age of 40." Medications, injury, genetics and overexposure to UV light can make cataracts form much earlier. With an annual dilated eye exam we are able to assess the progression of cataracts and at the appropriate time suggest treatment options.
Dr. Ballif pointed out that there have been several studies that have shown that eating healthy can slow down the progression rate of cataracts. Antioxidants are the primary nutrients that the studies are centered around. Antioxidants can be found in food sources and supplements. You can get more antioxidants in your diet by eating dark leafy green vegetables and fruits such as berries.
The rule of thumb is the darker the color of the vegetable or fruit the richer it is in antioxidants.
Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts and several other diseases of the eye, by three-fold. There are some indications in studies that smokers develop cataracts and macular degeneration at a much earlier age. "We recommend for better eye health to see your primary care provider to help you stop smoking," Dr. Ballif said.
Always Wear Sunglasses While in the Sun
Exposure to the harmful radiation of the sun plays a large role in the development of cataracts. "We typically see earlier cataract formation in people that have prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun," Dr. Ballif explained." It is also very important to wear sunglasses that have a high UVA/UVB protection rating. Wearing sunglasses is by far the single most important way that people can decrease early cataract formation, stated Dr. Ballif.
Keeping Blood Sugar Under Control
Studies have shown that elevated blood sugar can affect the lens of the eye. It not only swells when blood sugars are high resulting in blurred vision, but poor blood sugar control leads to a higher risk of developing cataracts. Keeping your blood sugar well controlled will decrease progression of cataracts.
By implementing these five suggestions, you can decrease the progression rate of cataracts and improve overall health. Utah Eye Centers is committed to helping in any way possible to decrease your risk of developing cataracts. If in time you do develop cataracts and treatment is necessary, Utah Eye Centers are Utah’s #1 rated cataract surgeons in the Intermountain West, with the most up to date procedures and professional staff.
If you have any further questions or to schedule a consultation, please call (801) 476-0494 or visit their website at www.utaheyecenters.com.