A cataract is a cloudy area in the eye’s lens, which causes blurred or distorted vision. While age is the leading cause of cataracts, smoking, alcohol consumption, and genetics can also play a significant role in developing this eye condition. Here are the causes of cataracts and when it may be necessary to consider cataract surgery as a treatment option:
As people get older, the proteins in their eyes’ lenses start to break down, clump together, and form cloudy spots. It’s a slow and gradual process that can impact your ability to see clearly. If you’re experiencing any changes in your vision, talk to your doctor about your treatment options, like cataract surgery.
Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Exposure to UV radiation can weaken the proteins in the visual lens. This can make them clump together and form cataracts. This is why you should wear protective eyewear when outside, especially during bright hours of the day. Avoid tanning beds and other sources of UV radiation.
People with diabetes may be at a higher risk of developing cataracts than those without the condition. This is because high blood sugar levels can cause changes to the proteins in the lens, leading to cataract formation. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels to prevent or delay the onset of cataracts. Individuals with diabetes should get an eye exam every year to monitor any changes in their vision.
Your risk of developing cataracts may be higher if you have a family history of cataracts, diabetes, or other health problems that affect your eyes. Inform your optometrist about your family history so that they can monitor your eye health and suggest the best course of action.
According to the World Health Organization, smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts as nonsmokers. Cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that can damage the eyes’ proteins, leading to severe clouding or blurring of vision. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of cataracts and other eye problems.
The alcohol in your bloodstream can affect how your body absorbs and uses nutrients like vitamins A and C, needed to maintain healthy eyesight. Excessive drinking can also cause dehydration, leading to dry eyes and increased susceptibility to cataracts. Reducing your alcohol intake can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts and other eye-related problems.
Poor nutrition is a major contributor to the development of cataracts. Certain vitamins and nutrients help maintain healthy eyes. A deficiency in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E can lead to oxidative stress and the formation of cataracts.
Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, lean protein sources, nuts, and seeds can help you avoid any potential nutritional deficiencies that may contribute to cataract progression. Drinking plenty of water, getting adequate exercise, and limiting your consumption of processed and sugary foods can also help to keep cataracts at bay.
Eye Injuries or Trauma
The accumulation of injuries over time can lead to cataract development. If you have a history of playing high-contact sports, such as football or ice hockey, you may be at increased risk of developing cataracts. Protect your eyes while playing sports by wearing appropriate goggles or helmets. Wear protective eyewear if you work in an industry involving hazardous materials or machinery exposure.
Prolonged Use of Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are medications used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and allergies. Prolonged use of these drugs can increase the risk of developing cataracts. Work closely with your doctor to manage your condition and check that you use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.
Get Cataract Surgery From a Qualified Doctor
Cataracts are a common eye condition that can significantly impact daily activities if left untreated. While age is a significant risk factor, there are other risk factors you can manage to reduce your chances of developing cataracts.
You can take control of your eye health and reduce your risk of developing cataracts. This is by protecting your eyes from injury, managing chronic health conditions, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. If you suspect you may have cataracts or are at risk of developing them, consult an eye care professional. They can evaluate and recommend treatment such as cataract surgery.