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Cataracts & Your Eyes

Are you aware of the disease called Cataract? Cataract is a disorder that is progressive and painless creating a layer on natural, internal lens of the eye, behind the iris and the pupil. It blocks the light entering our eyes and makes it difficult for us to see. It can also result into blindness if not cured in a certain period of time. This problem is generally caused to people above the age of 40. But in some cases it may develop in younger people. According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), more cases of cataract have been found than that of Glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined.

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts
Cataracts

Just like the functioning of camera, the eye lens also focuses light onto the retina for clear vision. It adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. Water and protein is what the lens is actually made up of. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and let’s light passes through it.

These proteins start to cloud a small area of the lens in the form of clumps due to age factor. And this might grow bigger and cloud more eye lens, making it difficult to see.

Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors include:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Obesity
  3. Hypertension
  4. Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  5. Previous eye surgery
  6. Significant alcohol consumption
  7. Smoking
  8. Previous eye injury or inflammation
  9. Hormone replacement therapy
  10. High myopia

Types of cataracts include:

  • Subcapsular cataract- This generally happens at the back of the lens.  High risk of this disorder is on the people who are on high doses of steroid medications or diabetic.
  • Nuclear cataract- In the central zone (nucleus) of the lens it forms a deep layer. This is generally because of aging.
  • Cortical cataract- This generally occurs in the lens cortex which is surrounded by the central nucleus. It is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion.

Cataract Prevention

Certain nutrients and nutritional supplements may help you reduce the risk of cataracts. In order to decrease the risk of cataract, higher dietary intake of vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin from food and supplements is essential.

  • Good food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and spinach.
  • Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach, kale and other green, leafy vegetables.

Cataract may also be reduced with antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids as shown in other studies.

You can also start wearing sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays when you are outdoors. This may really help you. If you need any help regarding cataracts, you may contact ICare Doctors of Optometry – your one stop for comprehensive vision exams.

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