There’s no better time to start taking care of your eyes than right now during Cataract Awareness Month. Almost everyone is at risk of developing cataracts, especially later in life. It’s crucial you do what you can to prevent it. This month, consider making small changes to your diet, lifestyle and vision health for the sake of your eyes.
In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about cataracts but will be glad you do now.
1. Cataracts Cause 51% of Blindness in the World
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that over half of the world’s cases of blindness are due to cataract development. This stat is explained by the lack of access to eye healthcare in developing countries.
Many of these countries have barriers to healthcare like geographical location, low income, and expensive health services. Luckily, in first-world countries, we have better access to eye care and can slow down the onset of cataracts more easily.
Remember, if cataracts are left untreated they can cause complete vision loss.
2. Kids Can Develop Cataracts, Too
Cataracts are usually considered an adult and older age-related disease. However, people of any age can develop them including babies and kids.
Kids’ eyes are still growing and developing until the age of about 11. When pediatric cataracts develop before the eyes are fully grown, they can cause further problems. Cataracts can distort the child’s vision, and even lead to a lazy eye.
Surgery is usually required for pediatric cataracts. Although it’s unfortunate for your child to require eye surgery, it may be crucial to their vision and eye health.
3. The Symptoms Can Vary
Some people won’t notice any symptoms of cataracts in their eyes or vision until an eye doctor points it out. Therefore, it’s so important to get regular eye exams.
When patients do have symptoms, they’re usually one or more of the following:
- Cloudy vision
- Seeing a halo around lights
- Extreme glare
- Diminished night vision
- Colors appear dull
- Requiring extra light to see clearly
Some people will notice their glasses or contact lens prescription needs to be adjusted frequently. This is a sign that your vision is being distorted and you should see an eye doctor.
4. Sunglasses Can Save Your Eyes
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage your eyes and increase your risk for cataract development.
When the UV light damages your lens’ proteins, glycation occurs. This allows for speedier cataract development. In one study, a group of mice was exposed to UV light for two hours; each one had damaged glycated proteins.
Invest in UV-protected sunglasses and wear them whenever you’re out in the sunlight. Also, the light reflected off snow can cause damage so make sure you don’t ditch them when summer ends.
5. Smoking Puts You at a Higher Risk
Unfortunately, this bad habit increases your chances of developing cataracts. The free radicals in tobacco smoke damage the lens proteins and cell membranes in your eyes. It also reduces the antioxidants in your body which are crucial to healing and protecting those cells.
The smoke from a cigarette can blow into the eyes which damages them from the outside, and the smoke you inhale into your lungs can damage them from the inside.
Smoking puts you at a higher risk for other eye diseases as well, like glaucoma and cancer.
6. Cataract Surgery Is Risky
Although it’s an effective way to remove cataracts, having surgery on your eyes makes you vulnerable to various complications. The normal risks of surgery include infection and excess bleeding. Both can occur with cataract surgery so make sure your surgeon has substantial training and experience.
A serious complication from cataract surgery is a retinal detachment. You won’t notice if this has occurred to you right away after surgery because it doesn’t cause pain. However, you may notice floating flecks in your vision. If you experience this, know that it’s a serious medical issue and you need to see a doctor immediately.
Make sure you understand all the risks of cataract surgery before you commit to it. And, know that there are lots of natural remedies that prevent and stall cataract development.
7. They Take Years to Develop Fully
Cataracts aren’t a fast-moving condition. You may not even notice their progression until more obvious symptoms occur.
You should be getting regular eye exams to check the health of your eyes and to analyze your vision. Doctors often notice abnormalities before we do. Also, it’s never too early to start taking preventative measures.
8. Antioxidants Can Delay the Onset of Cataracts
Oxidation is a process that occurs when free radicals damage your eyes’ cells. Free radicals are naturally occurring in the body, but without antioxidants to balance them, they damage cells.
You should ensure your diet is full of antioxidant-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, beans, dark chocolate, and others.
Fruits and veggies are especially beneficial to eye health because they contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are beneficial in slowing down eye diseases and encouraging overall eye health.
9. Supplements Are a Great Alternative
If your diet doesn’t include enough nutrient-rich foods, you should consider taking a natural supplement for eye health, like our Ocu-Plus Formula.
Some of us don’t have the time to plan a well-rounded diet or have food restrictions due to other health issues. In both cases, a supplement is a great alternative. Ocu-Plus Formula has 17 crucial vitamins and minerals in each pill and no preservatives.
10. Overuse of Eyes Can’t Make Them Worse
Some myths about cataracts say that using your close-up vision too much can cause cataracts to speed up their progression. This simply isn’t true.
The way you use your eyes has nothing to do with the clouding of your lenses. However, during certain activities like staring at a computer screen, you may notice symptoms more clearly. Factors like lifestyle, diet, access to healthcare, and genes will affect whether you develop cataracts, but not eye use in general.