Slowing Cataract Changes

Did you know that after our late 50s to 60s, the natural lenses in our eyes begin to become cloudy and yellow? These changes are known as cataracts.  Over time, patients with cataracts notice glare and halos around bright lights, fuzzy vision while watching TV, as well as needed more and more light to read. Cataracts can make enjoyable daily activities difficult and frustrating.

While cataract surgery removes the cloudy, yellow lens with a clear replacement lens, many patients are interested in preventing or slowing the progression of cataracts. Here are some lifestyle changes that help to slow cataract progression-allowing patients to have clearer vision, longer.

Incorporating sunglasses while outside help to block damaging ultra-violet radiation (UV rays) from the sun. These high-energy particles from the sun cause cataract progression by disrupting the structure of the lens fibers that make up the natural lens. Remember, sunlight also readily reflects from snow and water, increasing one’s exposure to UV radiation. Transitions lenses-lenses that quickly tint when exposed to UV light also offer protection.

Smoking. Here’s another reason to consider quitting. Smoking has been shown to accelerate cataract growth. Even cutting back on cigarettes smoked daily is a step towards better health.

Elevated blood sugar, for patients with diabetes, is a risk factor for developing early cataracts.  Chronically higher-than-normal blood sugar also causes structural changes in lens fiber arrangement. Risks for potential damage from diabetes can be minimized with consistent blood sugar control-including meeting with your primary care provider/endocrinologist regularly. Light exercise and limiting foods rich in carbohydrates are important lifestyle decisions for patients with diabetes.

A diet rich in vitamin E helps to slow cataract progression as well. Vitamin E’s antioxidant qualities help to reduce metabolic stress on cells in the lens. Such metabolic stress can impair cell function over time. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, and spinach.

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Posted in: Cataract, Educational Information

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