What is Cataracts?
Cataracts occur when cloudy patches develop in the clear lens inside your eyes, stopping light from reaching the back of the eye, and causing blurred or misty vision. Cataracts are very common – the main cause of impaired vision worldwide. In England and Wales, it is estimated that around 2.5 million people aged 65 or older have some degree of visual impairment caused by cataracts.
Most cataracts develop when ageing or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye’s lens.
Some people could inherit genetic disorders that cause other health problems which can increase your risk of cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes. Long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop.
No studies have proved how to prevent cataracts or slow the progression of cataracts. But doctors think several strategies may be helpful, including:
- Have regular eye examinations. Eye examinations can help detect cataracts and other eye problems at their earliest stages.
- Choose a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Adding a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to your diet ensures that you're getting many vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables have many antioxidants, which help maintain the health of your eyes. Studies haven't proved that antioxidants in pill form can prevent cataracts. But, a large population study recently showed that a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals was associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts. Fruits and vegetables have many proven health benefits and are a safe way to increase the amount of minerals and vitamins in your diet.
- Wear sunglasses. Ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you're outdoors.
- Reduce alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk of cataracts.
- Quit smoking.