A confusing misnomer, age-related cataracts are not exclusive to senior citizens. According to the National Eye Institute, cataracts begin developing in most people around middle-age (40-50’s), but don’t significantly affect vision until sometime after age 60.
While the risk for cataracts naturally increases as you get older, the lifestyle choices you make now can increase or decrease that risk. Below, we’ve listed five ways you can prevent cataracts and maintain good eye health.
1. Stop Smoking
You’ve probably already heard this more than once, but we’ll say it again in case you’ve forgotten: Smoking is bad for your overall health. That includes your eyes! Research shows that heavy smokers are three times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers. You’ll see a brighter future if you do yourself a favor and put down the pack.
2. Drink in Moderation
Most everyone enjoys a celebratory adult beverage every now and again, but too much can be a threat your eyes. Research from Boston University shows that drinking excessively (more than two drinks a day) can increase your risk of needing cataract surgery in the future. But don’t give up drinking quite yet!
Interestingly enough, that same research shows that a lack of alcohol posed similar risk. Rather, the study found that consuming alcohol in moderate amounts (one drink per day) correlates with a reduction in your risk for cataract surgery. So, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner — just don’t overdo it!
3. Keep Your Sugar Controlled
Diabetic patients are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar and keeping your Hemoglobin A1C down will help to delay the need for cataract surgery.
4. Limit Sun Exposure
There’s no better way to damage your eyes than subjecting them to ultraviolet (UV) light. When you’re outside on a sunny day without a wide brimmed hat or sunglasses, UV light can damage your eye proteins and start the process of cataract formation. Cataract formation triggered by UV light exposure can happen at any age, even in children. As a rule of thumb, if you or your loved ones are spending time outdoors, always make sure all eyes are protected regardless of season (National Eye Institute).
5. Avoid Steroid Medications
When people hear the word “steroids” they think of bodybuilders and professional athletes. Corticosteroids are a class of medication that are used to reduce inflammation. These medications are very beneficial for the correct patient, but care needs to be taken when administering near the eye, especially steroid creams like hydrocortisone. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your doctor.
Most people don’t think about scheduling an eye appointment until they begin experiencing symptoms like blurry or double vision. Unfortunately, most eye diseases present with very few symptoms until the damage has already been done. The best thing you can do for your eyes is to schedule an annual eye exam with an ophthalmologist.
If you’re experiencing any of the following cataract symptoms, we recommend you get your eyes checked sooner rather than later.
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Halo rings around light
- Seeing bright colors as faded or yellowed
- Trouble sleeping
- Needing more light when reading
- Significant increases in glasses or contact prescriptions
To schedule an appointment with one of our trusted doctors, fill out this form online or call 865-579-3920.