One cannot see much through the foggy window; similarly, for a person living with cataract, vision is disturbed due to the cloudiness of eye lens. As the lens becomes opaque, less of the light passes thus making the vision blurred. Some people may become more sensitive to the light while others may see halos in the light. In some cases, cloudiness may be mild and thus difficult to identify in the initial phase.
Cataract is challenging to overcome though in many cases it is preventable with specific measures like balanced diet and use of supplements. Unfortunately, cataract is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness globally.
What are the causes of cataract?
Aging is the leading cause of cataract; people above the age of 40 are at higher risk of developing a cataract though it is more common in the age group above 60 years. About one-fifth to half of the adults above the age of 50 have a cataract to some extent though in only smaller number of cases it is severe enough to cause visual disturbances, thus in reality, it is diagnosed in around 5-10% of those above the age of 50. Age is not the only cause; in rare cases, it may be even present in newborns as a congenital disability.
Furthermore, there is need to understand that cataract is not caused solely due to aging. Chronic inflammatory diseases increase the risk of cataract. Thus, those with cardiovascular conditions, asthma, and diabetes, are at higher risk. Smoking also increases the risk of cataract.
What are the treatment options?
Surgery remains the safe and effective way of treatment though any surgery has specific risks and thus researchers are looking for medications to dissolve cataracts.
In fact, one such eye drop is already in development. Lanosterol containing eye drop has been successful in dissolving cataracts in animals, and in the near future, it may be tested in humans. However, such eye drops will not help in all the cases as it can only dissolve patches caused by the accumulation of a particular type of proteins.
Natural ways of overcoming cataract
Prolonged exposure to sunlight increases the risk of cataract. Thus people who spend too much time in the sun like professional drivers or who work outside must wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Decreasing smoking and alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of developing cataract too.
Consuming food high in antioxidants may also prevent cataract, generally colorful fruits, and berries are considered to be good for vision.
Similarly, research has shown that those who consume lots of green leafy vegetables are at less risk of developing a cataract. Yellow and red vegetables are rich in vitamin A and may also help to keep the vision intact.
Vitamin C is not only potent antioxidant it is also linked to the lower risk of cataract. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, pepper, and berries are all rich in vitamin C.
Among the micronutrients, zinc is highly beneficial for eyes. Its deficiency may cause cloudiness of lens. Milk products, chickpeas, and pumpkin are some of the rich sources of zinc.
Lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of cataract by as much as 50%. Green vegetables, eggs, and corn are some of their rich sources.
Finally, fish oil or omega-3 rich food items may also help prevent cataract. Fish oil/omega-3 is also useful for heart and brain health.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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