5 Tips for Lowering Your Risk for Developing Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common eye problems for aging Americans and a leading cause of blindness. In fact, by the time you reach age 80, there’s a 50% chance that you either have a cataract or you’ve already had cataract surgery. The expert team of doctors at UltraVision in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Eagle Pass, Texas, are well-versed in providing cataract surgery to improve their patients’ vision.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who may benefit from cataract surgery, you can rest assured our team of laser surgery specialists are here to help, and we want to help you learn how to prevent cataracts in the first place. Our UltraVision team shares these five tips for lowering your risk for developing cataracts:

1. Schedule regular eye exams

This is by far the most important thing you can do to prevent cataracts from developing. Regular eye exams help your physician detect the early signs of cataracts (the clouding of your eyes’ lenses), eye conditions, or any other vision concerns, so they can offer treatment as as soon as possible.

While sometimes the “treatment” is to monitor the progression of the condition, the sooner you’re aware of a developing cataract, the easier it will be for your doctor to recommend the best way to manage it.

2. Wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes

Just like sun exposure can lead to developing skin cancer when you’re older, ultraviolet (UV) light exposure from the sun’s rays may also be one of the biggest contributing factors to the development of cataracts. Research suggests that years of exposure to UV radiation are associated with cataracts as you age.

Start protecting your eyes from the sun now, so you can minimize that risk in the future. Sunglasses and a hat to shield your eyes from the sun in every season can go a long way in keeping you in that 50% of the population who doesn’t have a cataract by age 80.

3. Get health issues like diabetes and heart disease under control

Diabetes and heart disease are also contributing factors that may increase your risk for cataracts. When you get these health conditions under control, you could be saving your vision as well as improving your overall health and wellness.

Some research also points to obesity and high blood pressure as additional risk factors that may increase your chances of developing cataracts later in life.

4. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet

A healthy diet and lifestyle can go a long way toward improving your overall well-being and helping to prevent cataracts. Colorful fruits and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, and leafy greens (think spinach and kale) are rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial to your eye health.

Many vision care professionals also recommend taking supplements of vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E, as well as selenium (a mineral), which can all help slow the development of cataracts. Of course, before you take any type of supplement, we recommend you consult your doctor for the appropriate forms and dosages.

5. Quit smoking

Like eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking also has numerous health benefits, and one of them is helping you prevent the onset of cataracts. Cigarette smoke is full of toxins, including tar, hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide, to name just a few. Smoking has been directly linked to the development of cataracts and other eye conditions like macular degeneration.

If you smoke, your risk of developing cataracts doubles compared to that of nonsmokers, and it triples if you’re a heavy smoker. In other words, the more you smoke, the higher your risk of developing cataracts. Many doctors believe that the toxic fumes in cigarette smoke alter the cells in your eyes’ lenses through oxidation.

If you’re concerned about cataracts because of current vision problems, past eye surgeries, or your overall health and lifestyle, follow that first step and schedule an eye exam — call or use the convenient online booking tool. Your future self will thank you for being proactive today.

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