It’s a well known fact that eyesight tends to deteriorate with age, and cataracts are a major contributing factor. It’s estimated that 68 percent of people over the age of 79 have some degree of cataract formation in their eyes. Cataract risk in men and women also increases with diabetes.
While women experience cataracts more frequently than men statistically speaking, this is in part due to the fact that women have a longer life expectancy. As men are becoming more cognizant of taking care of their health throughout their lives, it’s only natural that they would start looking for ways to protect their eye health as well.
So, the question remains: what can men do to lower their risk of developing cataracts as they age?
Why Cataracts Are a Problem
Cataracts are the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness worldwide. This is why it’s imperative that people take action early in life to protect their eyesight later on. A new research review compiled by Nutrients investigated nutritional adjustments we can make to strengthen our eyes and help prevent developing cataracts down the road.
According to Nutrients, cataract cases are on the rise in the United States. This is due to a variety of reasons, including an aging population and sedentary lifestyle.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States, costing around $3.5 billion per year. If cataract numbers continue to rise, the need for surgery could exceed resources available.
Nutrients conducted a survey of literature focused on nutrient intake and cataract development and came to one conclusion: a nutritional diet can significantly reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Just as eating healthy can help keep your waistline trim and your organs functioning well, it can also significantly benefit your vision. But what nutrients should you focus on to prevent the development of cataracts?
Researchers agree that antioxidants are key in the fight against cataracts. This is because cataracts form through the oxidation of eye tissue, and antioxidants can slow this process down. Antioxidants are a huge buzzword in the health industry, but where can you find them?
Fruits and Vegetables
Research suggests that the best way to prevent cataracts is to increase your antioxidant intake by directly consuming fruits and vegetables. In fact, a study reviewed by Nutrients found that a “high intake of fruit and vegetables reduced the incidence of cataracts by 62 percent.” Most research shows that nutrients are most bioavailable, or useful to your body, when they are consumed raw from the source. However, adding supplements to your diet has proven to be helpful as well.
Adding certain supplements in the form of multivitamins can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts as well. Currently, it seems that the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are the most effective in preventing cataracts. These nutrients are carotenoids and are already abundantly found in your lens. Increasing your intake will help slow the oxidation process and prevent cataracts from forming.
Nutrients found that high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin was associated with a 23% lower incidence of nuclear cataracts. Research suggests that women and men who take between four and six milligrams per day will experience these benefits.
Nutrients also suggested that increasing lutein and zeaxanthin intake will not only reduce your risk of developing cataracts but also slow the progression of the disease in general. Clearly, it’s important to add these nutrients to your supplement regimen at any stage of life.
Vitamin C has long thought to be a powerhouse nutrient when it comes to fighting eye disease. However, in their literature review, Nutrients found an important caveat when it comes to the connection between vitamin C and cataract development.
In the studies they reviewed, multivitamin supplements that contained vitamin C decreased patients’ risk of developing cataracts. However, people who took vitamin C on its own developed cataracts more frequently. This is because, at high doses, vitamin C can actually increase the oxidation rate in your eyes. The same goes for Vitamin E. So, it’s best to take these vitamins as parts of a multivitamin rather than as high-dose supplements on their own.
Controlling What You Can
There are different risk factors that make you more likely to develop cataracts. People who smoke, have diabetes, have a lot of direct sunlight exposure to their eyes, and over the age of 55 are all at greater risk of developing cataracts. Age is not a risk factor you can change, but the other three risk factors can all be reduced by choices you make.
If you are a smoker, try quitting. Smoking is not only a risk factor for cataracts, but many other health problems. Exposure to direct sunlight is another risk factor that can be controlled. Make sure you wear eye protection when in the sunlight. Sunglasses should be rated for UVA/UVB protection. Another option to protect yourself from sunlight is to wear a wide brimmed hat.
You can also reduce your risk for diabetes by eating a moderate diet. If you already have diabetes, making good food choices is a great way to manage your condition.
Take Your Vitamins
Clearly, taking your vitamins (and eating vitamin-rich foods) are key in the battle against cataracts. Daily multivitamins are a great way to start preventing cataracts today.
Rebuild Your Vision now offers an eye vitamin as well as a multivitamin that can help make sure you are getting the appropriate dosage of a wide range of cataract-fighting vitamins and minerals. The Rebuild Your Vision Ocu-Plus formula contains lutein, zeaxanthin, appropriate doses of vitamin C and vitamin E, and 13 other vitamins and minerals essential for eye health. The multivitamin includes a wide range of vitamins that will support your eye health as well as your health overall.
Hopefully, with the promising data reviewed by Nutrients, scientists will conduct more research to find the correct dosage of each vitamin. This will help optimize the usefulness of vitamins in reducing the risk of cataracts and other eye ailments. Nevertheless, men can reduce their cataract risk by adding multivitamins to their wellness regimen today.