Some risk factors for cataracts are out of your control, but you can choose certain healthy foods to lower your risk of developing cataracts.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts develop naturally as part of the aging process. Around age 40, proteins in the eye's lens clump together, creating a cloudy area or cataract. Several risk factors can cause cataracts to develop more quickly or at a younger age. These may include the following:
- Using tobacco or alcohol
- Diseases like diabetes, glaucoma or hypertension
- Overexposure to sunlight, ultraviolet rays or x-rays
- Eye trauma
- Nutrition deficiency
Foods That Fight Against Cataracts
Certain foods may help reduce your risk for cataracts or delay cataract development.
Eggs are a high-quality protein recommended for most adults for a heart-healthy diet. In addition, egg yolks are high in zeaxanthin, a pigment that promotes eye health. One study found that for every 10 milligrams of zeaxanthin, patients experienced a 26 percent decrease in cataract development.
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which is associated with lower cataract risk. It also contains high amounts of selenium and iodine. Some good plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Vitamin C significantly impacts eye health, especially when it comes to cataracts. Studies show that higher levels of vitamin C reduce the risk of a cataract. Kiwi has more vitamin C than any commonly eaten fruit. In particular, SunGold kiwi is among the most nutritionally dense fruits and contains more than 100 percent of the recommended vitamin C intake.
Research proves that diets rich in vitamins A and E are associated with fewer cataracts. One serving of pumpkin provides 300 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E and 10 percent of vitamin A. You don't have to wait until fall to indulge in pumpkin. Add pumpkin puree to smoothies, muffins and oatmeal.
Comprehensive Eye Exams Diagnose Cataracts Early
An ophthalmologist can examine you for cataracts as part of a comprehensive eye exam. Your treatment will depend on how fully the cataract has developed. Surgery is the only way to eliminate a cataract, but you may not require surgery immediately. However, you will want to schedule cataract surgery once cataracts begin to interfere with driving, reading or housework.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safe procedures performed in the United States. A surgeon will remove the clouded lens from your eye and replace it with a clear, artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). These lenses will never wear out and are customized to your eye to provide near vision, distance vision or both.
Are you under the care of a board-certified ophthalmologist? We can help. Our physicians are accepting new patients and are ready to meet your vision needs. In addition, our eye care centers are located nationwide and offer complete vision care for the entire family.