A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes and it cannot spread from one eye to the other. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.
If you smoke or drink, find ways to stop or significantly moderate your consumption. Chronic diseases need to be aggressively treated, especially weight gain and diabetes.
Patients with diabetes have three-to-five times higher risk of cataract formation than does the general population. Effective management includes avoiding both chronically high and low blood sugar, as each can injure the lens.
“The best thing you can do to prevent eye disorders is to make sure that your diet contains a variety of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. There is very good evidence that the lutein in food helps protect against cataracts and macular degeneration. It is a major component of the yellow and orange pigment found in many fruits and vegetables including mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, tomatoes and dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards and bok choy.” – says Dr. Andrew Weil.
In addition to eating these foods, Dr. Weil recommends taking a good multivitamin-mineral that contains vitamin C, vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, mixed carotenoids (including lutein and zeaxanthin as well as beta-carotene) and the B-complex vitamins.
He also recommends an anti-inflammatory diet, including essential fatty acids such as fish oil, and herbs like turmeric and ginger.
Make an appointment for an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision. If you develop sudden vision changes, such as double vision or blurriness, see your doctor right away.