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Prevent Cataracts

To prevent suffering the complications of cataracts it is advisable to have regular eye exams, especially as you get older.

The following steps are advisable to lower your risk of developing cataracts - some of them have convincing circumstantial evidence of their worth, while others (smoking, diet) are proven measures:

  • Give up smoking - several studies have indicated that a higher percentage of smokers develop cataracts, compared to non-smokers. There are also indications that smokers are likely to experience cataract symptoms earlier. Smoking also increases the risk of other eye disease/conditions.
  • Nutrition - eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, good quality fats (avocado, olive oil, omega oils), and either plant sourced proteins or lean animal sourced proteins.

    The findings by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, USA suggest that vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids - two categories of nutrients believed to have health benefits - may both affect cataract development, although not necessarily in beneficial ways.

    Women who consume plenty of dark leafy vegetables which are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as sufficient vitamin E from supplements/foods seem to have better protection against developing cataracts, scientists from the Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston found.

  • Sunlight - wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B rays (UV radiation). Many people are not aware of the damage UV radiation can cause to the eyes - a study found that only 49% of Americans said UV protection was the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses.
  • Sleep - make sure you get at least 7 hours of good quality, continuous sleep every night.
  • Obesity - obesity significantly raises the risk of developing diabetes type 2, which in turn is an important cataract risk factor. Keeping your weight within the recommended limits will help prevent your risk from increasing.
  • Diabetes - be careful to have your diabetes under control; follow your treatment plan assiduously.
  • Exercise - Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported that running reduces the risk of both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Cataract generally does not cause pain, redness or tears. However, these changes in your vision may be signs of cataract:

  • Blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, and the sense of a "film" over the eyes.
  • Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are "dazzled" by strong light.
  • Changing eyeglass prescriptions often. The change may not seem to help your vision.
  • You may sometimes notice the cataract in your eye. It may look like a milky or yellowish spot in the pupil (the center of your eye is normally black).

From MedicalNewsToday.com and Prevent Blindness Ohio.

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