Monthly Archives: May 2017

June is Cataract Awareness Month

What is the treatment for cataracts?
Even though cataracts are so prevalent, they are very simple to treat. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, which prevents passage of light into the eye. The solution to cataracts is cataract surgery, which requires a surgeon to remove the deteriorated lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL. Over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually, making it one of the most common surgeries in the United States. In fact, the entire surgery lasts only about 20 minutes, and most people can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.Is cataract removal safe?Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries with a success rate of 95 percent. Your surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Only a miniscule incision in the cornea is necessary to do this procedure, and it can be completed in about 15 minutes in an outpatient surgery centerDo cataracts only affect seniors?

Cataracts can affect anyone! Although most people do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 40, cataracts can also affect young adults or even children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking could cause cataracts to develop at an earlier age.

Can I prevent cataracts?

There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow the progression of cataracts. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to UV rays, eating healthy foods, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.

Foods that Fight Cataracts

Although the exact cause of cataracts is unclear, research suggests that free radicals, or oxidation, may be to blame. Free radicals are unstable chemicals formed in the body when we are exposed to environmental toxins. These harmful chemicals can be found in air, food and water. As pollutants increase in our environment, free radical damage is also on the rise. When free radicals come into contact with our cell membranes or DNA, they can cause cell weakness or cell death. Oxidation is linked to every degenerative disease such as cancer, heart disease, natural aging and cataracts. Oxidation can damage the proteins and enzymes in the lens of the eye and cause cataracts to form.

If free radicals are the villain, antioxidants are the ultimate superhero. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals before cell damage occurs. The most prominent antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C and selenium. Since the body cannot synthesize antioxidants, they must be incorporated into the diet. This is the perfect time of year to find fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants that protect your eyes from cataracts.

Vitamin E has many other health benefits besides protection against cataracts. It protects your skin from UV rays, allows cells to communicate with one another and protects you from prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Good sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, dark leafy greens, and papaya.

Beta-carotene is known to protect against cancer and aging as well as prevent cataract formation. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is best to pair your food source of beta carotene with a fat like nuts or oil to aid in absorption. The best sources of beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, turnip and mustard greens, spinach, and butternut squash.

Vitamin C may be helpful in fighting cataracts by slowing their progression. The American Optometric Association recommends at least 250 mg of daily vitamin C for optimum eye health. Five servings of various fruits and vegetables provide 100 grams or more of this powerful antioxidant, but there are a few vitamin C superstars. The green hot chili pepper reigns supreme with an impressive 243 mg/100 g serving. If you like to kick up the heat, you can get all your daily vitamin C from just four of these spicy little guys! Other good sources of vitamin C are guavas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, papaya and the poster child for vitamin C—the orange.

With the beautiful colors and varieties of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, you have many choices for healthy, nutritious foods to protect you from free-radical damage. Go treat yourself to a trip to the produce section of your grocery store or a local vegetable stand to keep those eyes healthy and keep cataracts away!

May is Healthy Vision Month

It’s Healthy Vision Month! Make Your Eye Health a Priority

Women are more likely to have eye-related diseases and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Nearly two-thirds of blindness and visual impairment occurs in women, and women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are blind or visually impaired. You may be busy, on the go, and caring for your family, but it is important that you make the time to take care of you! During Healthy Vision Month, held each May, the National Eye Institute (NEI) reminds you to make your eye health a priority and encourages you to take five important steps to protect your sight.

Get a dilated eye exam.

Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to know if your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you should have one. If you want to see what your eye care professional sees during a dilated eye exam, check out NEI’s eye exam animation!

Live a healthy lifestyle.

Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking can lower your risk of eye disease. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Know your family history.

Talk to your family members— including parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many diseases are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.

Use protective eyewear.

Protect your eyes when doing chores around the house, playing sports, or on the job to prevent eye injuries from happening. This includes wearing safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate. Eyewear should sit comfortably on the face, so talk to your eye care provider about the appropriate type of protective eyewear for your sport or job. Make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times, and encourage your teammates and coworkers to do the same.

Wear sunglasses.

Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your eyes healthy. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase your risk for getting an eye disease like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. A wide-brimmed hat offers great protection, too!

These steps can help you keep your eyes healthy and prevent vision loss and blindness from eye disease.

To learn more about Healthy Vision Month and find additional eye health information, visit www.nei.nih.gov/hvm.