Understanding Cataracts

Posted at 7:07 PM on Jun 3, 2024

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June marks National Cataract Awareness Month and an excellent opportunity to consider your eye health. Your eyes are critical and should not be forgotten, meaning you should regularly go in for eye exams even if you are not experiencing vision problems. Cataracts are a common issue, particularly as we age, and understanding them is key to maintaining good vision. Continue reading to learn what cataracts are, their causes, and some essential eye health tips to help you keep your vision sharp and clear.

Understanding Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye, leading to blurry vision and, if untreated, eventual blindness. The lens, located behind the colored part of your eye (iris), focuses light onto the retina, producing clear, sharp images. When the lens becomes cloudy, it scatters light, leading to vision problems.

Causes of Cataracts

  • Aging –Most cataracts develop slowly and are primarily due to aging. The proteins in the lens start to break down and clump together, causing cloudiness.
  • UV Exposure – Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase the risk of cataracts.
  • Medical Conditions – Diseases such as diabetes can accelerate cataract formation.
  • Lifestyle Factors – Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor diet can contribute to the development of cataracts.
  • Medications – Prolonged use of corticosteroids can increase the risk of cataracts.

Eye Health Tips

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Maintaining good eye health can help reduce the risk of cataracts and other vision problems. Here are some tips to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Regular Eye Exams – Schedule regular check-ups with your eye doctor to catch any issues early. For most adults, this means every 1-2 years.
  • Limit Screen Time – Too much screen time can cause many eye issues such as strain, dry eye, difficulty seeing objects far away, headaches, and more.
  • Wear Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Quit Smoking – Smoking can double the risk of developing cataracts. Quitting smoking improves overall eye health.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – Consume foods rich in antioxidants, such as leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, to support eye health.
  • Manage Health Conditions – Keep conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure under control to lower the risk of cataracts.
  • Limit Alcohol – Excessive alcohol intake can increase cataract risk, so it's best to drink in moderation or not drink alcohol at all.
  • Use Protective Eyewear – When engaging in activities that could harm your eyes, such as sports or certain jobs, always wear appropriate protective eyewear.

Eye Health is Part of Overall Health

National Cataract Awareness Month is the perfect time to focus on your eye health. By understanding what cataracts are, taking steps to maintain good eye health, and scheduling regular check-ups with trusted professionals like Eye West and Crystal Vision Clinic, you can help protect your vision and enjoy clear sight for years to come. If you have any questions or need a referral, feel free to ask your doctor during your next visit. Your vision is vital to your overall health, and taking care of it should be a priority.