3 tips to reduce your risk of cataracts
About 25 million people in the U.S. have cataracts, a degenerative eye condition that causes cloudy, blurry or dim vision. This June, the UCLA Stein Eye and Doheny Eye Institutes join the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in observing Cataract Awareness Month by offering three essential tips to reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
As we age, the lenses of our eyes thicken and become cloudier. Squinting, dull colors and blurriness are common symptoms of cataracts, which affect about 70 percent of people by age 75, the AAO says. Fortunately, cataracts can be corrected with surgery. And while most people will develop cataracts, lifestyle and behavior can influence when and how severely cataracts develop. Here are three things you can do to help slow the progression of cataracts:
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, may delay how fast cataracts form, according to the American Optometric Association. In addition, smoking has been found to increase the risk of cataract development and other eye conditions.
- Wear hats and sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses and hats that block the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts. The AAO recommends only purchasing sunglasses that say they provide 99 to 100 percent UV-blockage. Brimmed hats that cover your ears are also recommended.
- Know potential risk factors. Individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, may be at a higher risk for developing cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and prolonged use of steroids can also result in cataracts. If you identify with these or other risk factors, talk to your eye care professional.
If you do develop cataracts, treatment options are available. About 3 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the U.S. to restore vision. During the procedure, the natural clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, which usually significantly improves vision. Patients have a variety of lenses to choose from, each with different benefits. Studies show that cataract surgery can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of falling.