Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye, which is usually clear, becomes opaque and cloudy. They develop over time, and at their later stages, they can severely impair vision. Most people do not begin developing cataracts until they reach retirement age. While they are common in older adults, you are not necessarily doomed to develop them. There are several habits you can adopt earlier in life to reduce your risk of developing cataracts later on.
Take a Vitamin C Supplement
Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that is best known for its role in improving immunity, but it also has quite the impact on eye health. It helps protect the capillaries and connective tissues, including the tissues that form the lens of the eye. Research has shown that increased vitamin C intake is linked with a lower risk of cataracts, so experts recommend taking a supplement with at least 300 mg of vitamin C each day in order to protect your eyes. Also remember to eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods. Orange juice may be the best-known of these, but spinach, tomatoes, bananas, and apples are also good sources.
Say "No" To Tobacco
There are perhaps hundreds of reasons to avoid smoking, and reducing your risk of cataracts is certainly one of them. People who smoke double their risk of developing cataracts—and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. If you are currently a smoker, it's time to do all that you can to quit. Join a support group, talk to your doctor about prescription drugs to help you quit, and consider replacing smoking with a healthier habit like going to the gym.
Protect Your Eyes From the Sun
UV rays cause all sorts of damage to your skin, your eyes, and to other tissues. So, get into the habit of protecting your eyes from these damaging rays of sunlight. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you go outside and whenever you drive. Note that not all sunglasses block UV rays. Make sure the pair you purchase are specifically labeled for this purpose—the good ones will say they block 99% or 100% of harmful UV rays. Your eye doctor can help you select the pair that's right for you, if needed.
With cataract surgery becoming safer than ever, if you do develop cataracts, there's a good chance your vision can be saved. Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and none of these cataract-preventing precautions are very difficult to take. For more information, contact companies like Baldwin Optical & Hearing Aid Co.