Other than hitting the pause button on your life, is there anything you can do to prevent cataracts?
Getting older presents a slew of challenges. One of them is sight. As you get older and your eyes have more exposure to potentially damaging elements, the risk for vision-related conditions like cataracts goes way up.
It’s estimated that cataracts, a condition marked by cloudy, blurry vision affects around half of people between 65 and 74. That number jumps to 70% for the 75+ cohort.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes cataracts. What they do know is that protein molecules begin to clump along the lens of the eye, causing trouble with vision and focus. The vision troubles are a result of limited light being allowed in and the fact that a small protein-cloud has formed.
Aging is a factor. So is family history. But you can’t really do much about that. There are, however, some modifiable risk factors that may—and I say may – play a role in reducing the risk of cataracts.
Not smoking and moderating alcohol consumption can help right off the bat. Heavy drinking and smoking are associated with a greater risk. Wearing hats and UV-protective sunglasses and eyeglasses can also help. There is evidence to suggest exposure to damaging sun rays can heighten risk too.
Evidence on diet changes is a little less apparent, although there is some work to suggest that certain nutrients may reduce the risk. Antioxidants, for example, might help reduce the risk by preventing or removing free radicals that may enhance protein clumping.
Nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin A are all associated with improved eye health.
Omega-3 fatty acids also seem to offer some protective effects. One review found an association between higher intake of omega-3 rich foods like salmon and improved eye health.
So, if you want to try to reduce your risk for cataracts, lifestyle interventions might help. Thankfully, according to data from Harvard, if these interventions don’t work, surgery can help restore vision 90% of the time.