Cataracts are more common than glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration combined, with more than 50 percent of Americans developing this eye problem by the time they reach the age of 80. While there’s no proven way to totally prevent this condition, there are steps you can take to limit your risk and avoid cataract surgery.
Get Regular Eye Care
Even if you don’t need glasses, it’s a good idea to make regular eye appointments each year so the eye doctor can look for any signs you may be developing vision problems or eye-related diseases like cataracts or glaucoma. Discovering these problems early makes them easier to treat.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs, it can also increase your risk for cataracts. Keep your eyes healthy by quitting this vice.
Alcohol Only in Moderation
As with smoking, drinking to excess may increase the risk of developing cataracts. Moderation typically means no more than one drink on any given day for women or two drinks for men.
Limit UV Exposure
UVA and UVB exposure can make it so cataracts tend to appear at an earlier age. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a wide brim can help limit your exposure.
Avoid Long-Term Corticosteroid Use
While taking corticosteroid medications can help with a number of health issues, taking these medications for a long time can increase cataract risk. Ask your doctor if there are any other alternatives.
People with diabetes have an increased risk for cataracts, so it’s important to control your diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible to make it less likely you’ll need cataract surgery in the future.
Follow a Healthy Diet
There are a number of nutrients in foods that may be helpful for limiting cataract risk. These include selenium, calcium, folic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fats, vitamins C and E and beta-carotene. Fatty fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you keep your eyes healthy. Stay away from sugary foods, processed foods and fried foods, as these can increase the risk for cataracts, as can getting too much sodium in your diet.