The camera-like portion of the eye is called the lens, which sits behind the colored iris of the eye. With age and the sun, this lens turns cloudy and yellow because its cells cannot regenerate.
Most of the time this is a normal process, unless early onset due to diabetes, steroid medications, or injury causes a premature cataract. Common symptoms people experience are increasing haziness, yellowing of colors, increasing need for more light, and decreased driving at night or, rarely, double vision. An eye surgeon can surgically remove the cataract and replace it with an implant.
- Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds contain natural oils to protect from cataracts.
- Sunglasses with 99% UVA/UVB protection can help to prolong cataract onset until years later.
- Consuming the daily recommended amount of vitamin C (oranges, orange and yellow peppers) can help to prevent free radical formation (DNA mutations) which can lead to cataract formation. Try kiwis, papayas, and grapefruit for your vitamin C sources. Those that receive the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C can lower their risk by 50%.
- Researchers have found that foods containing a higher glycemic index (carbohydrate-rich foods) may advance damage to the lens by exposing its tissue to glucose for longer periods.
- Males with a large percentage of belly fat have a 31% greater risk of developing cataract than other males. A “spare tire” is a warning sign of heart attack, stroke and cataract.
- Free radicals are found in the air and water from pollution and toxic chemicals, in processed foods, and from exposure to radiation from the sun. They have been known to contribute to systemic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, degenerative neurological disease and certain forms of cancer.
- Smoking likely adds to cataract risk earlier due to the oxidative action of inhaled toxins in cigarette smoke.
- Steroids or any other anti-inflammatory medication, such as Prednisone, can cause early cataract formation. This cataract is called posterior capsular cataract, which forms on the back surface of the lens.
Why it’s Important to Get Regular Eye Exams
Comprehensive eye exams often are the first way chronic systemic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes are detected. Regular eye exams are the best way to ensure eye health and maintaining your best vision possible. They also check for diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.