There are a lot of vision disorders that can affect our eyesight and our overall eye health. However, very few affect our eyes like the Big Three do. Glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration are the most popular vision conditions that develop as we age.
Approximately three million people in the United States have glaucoma (but about half don’t even know it); over two million people reportedly had age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2010; and a whopping 24 million people in America have cataracts and by the age of 75, about half of people will have them.
Unfortunately, the Big Three are extremely prevalent in our society. It’s almost a given that when you reach a certain age your eyes will deteriorate and succumb to one or all three of these diseases.
However there is hope. There is hope in protecting yourself against these vision conditions. Protect and prevent is the way to go to keeping the Big Three at bay.
Let us start off with cataracts. They are the most common vision condition as we age. Cataracts affect our central vision when an excess of protein begins to build up on the lens of the eye.
The lens then becomes clouded causing blurred vision and halos around light sources. This can severely interfere with daily activities and night driving. People lose their independence when the cataracts begin to take their vision away.
Luckily, however, there are treatments and means of prevention for this vision condition.
First and foremost, you need to change your diet. Whether you have cataracts already or want to prevent them, a healthy diet can make all the difference. Ideally, you’d want a diet high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants attack free radicals in the body, which are unstable atoms that can cause damage and sometimes death to the cells in your body. When antioxidants are present, they balance out the free radicals and prevent cell damage. A high antioxidant diet has been linked to preventing cataracts in the eye.
Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Berries: especially blueberries, cranberries and blackberries
- Russet potatoes
Wearing the right eye protection will also reduce your risk of developing cataracts. The development of cataracts has been linked to excessive sun exposure. Donning a pair of sunglasses can save your vision in the long run.
Cataracts can also be caused by an eye injury such as foreign objects in the eye or a blunt hit to the eye. Wear the appropriate eye protection when needed.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is the one age-related vision condition that no one can escape. Our macula will degenerate over time, it’s only natural. However, there are ways to prevent the disease from progressing too quickly.
As AMD attacks the macula, our vision will get distorted. The progressing of the disease depends on the person, but once it has progressed to later stages of the disease, it will begin to distort images and cause dark, cloudy and spotted images.
Again, the best way to prevent and slow down the progress of this disease is to eat the right foods and give your eyes the proper vitamins and nutrients.
A diet composed of natural anti-inflammatory properties will yield the best results. Try introducing a daily herbal tea into your diet. Not only is it relaxing, but herbal tea is a natural anti-inflammatory that will decrease your risk of AMD.
If tea is not for you or you’re looking for something a little more exciting for your taste buds, coconut water is also a great option.
Foods you’ll want to avoid are alcohol and caffeine, inflammatory foods like processed and packaged foods and foods high in trans fats; and finally, try to limit your intake of added sugars.
Though there is much more to learn about the causes of AMD and how to treat the disease, experts can agree on one thing: it definitely develops due to inflammation. Consuming a diet that can help you to regulate inflammation in the body is especially important when you have AMD. It’s also the key to preventing it.
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Finally we come to our final of the three: glaucoma. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma can be a scary disease because if not monitored and treated correctly, it will cause blindness.
Cataracts and AMD will rarely cause blindness. They’ll cause low vision and impaired vision, but you will never lose your eyesight. With glaucoma however, the intraocular pressure in the eye can cause irreversible cell damage.
Glaucoma is caused by the eye’s inability to drain out the fluid from the eye properly or quick enough. Therefore, the pressure builds and presses down on the cells of the eye. When this pressure goes unmonitored, it can worsen and damage the cells in the eyes.
The best way to prevent glaucoma is to consume a diet rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are what gives vegetables their pigments. These carotenoids make it easier for our eyes to absorb vitamin A, which as you know is essential to our eye’s health.
Foods high in carotenoids will help to regulate the pressure in the eye and drain out fluid. The best foods include anything that has a really nice pigment such as carrots, sweet bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and dark leafy greens.
If you already have glaucoma and are looking for some relief, frankincense essential oil may help alleviate some symptoms. Dabbing a few drops around your eyes will promote circulation around and in the eye. Massage the frankincense oil around your eyes as many times as you need to, but be careful not to get it in the eye!
Though the Big Three sounds like a group of bandits from the Wild West, they really aren’t that scary once you know how to prevent them. One thing we can all do to help protect ourselves from AMD, cataracts and glaucoma is to make a slight change in diet.
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