Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. If you are experiencing increased vision loss, you may need more than new glasses. It may be time to visit your eye doctor for a cataract screening. More than half of all Americans over the age of 70 have developed cataracts to some degree. Cataracts are common and curable, and typical symptoms include blurry vision, colors that appear faded, glare, double vision and difficulty with night vision.
There are several risk factors that affect cataract formation. If you have diabetes, are a smoker or have a family history of cataracts, you are at a higher risk for developing cataracts. Other factors can also include excessive exposure to sunlight, eye injury or inflammation and prolonged use of steroids.
You can reduce your risk of developing cataracts by wearing UV protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat while going outdoors. If you are diabetic, talk to your doctor about how to control your blood sugar by diet, exercise and medication. For smokers, quitting smoking offers countless health benefits and cataract prevention is only one of them.
Eating more green leafy vegetables, fruits and foods that are rich in antioxidants can help prevent cataracts as well. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will also help you maintain a healthy weight. Coffee lovers will love this new finding: moderate caffeine may even help protect you from cataracts so indulge in that morning cup of joe!
This month as we celebrate Cataract Awareness Month, do your part to get involved. If you are 60 or older, you should have a dilated comprehensive eye exam every two years to screen for cataracts and other eye diseases. If you have an aging parent, you can show your love by taking your parent, relative or loved one to a comprehensive eye exam. Awareness is the key to prevention, so Happy Cataract Awareness Month!