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4 Ways to Prevent Cataracts at Any Age


Did you know that cataracts are one of the most common causes of vision loss for individuals over the age of 40?

Although it's one of the most common causes, it is treatable. In fact, according to the National Eye Health Survey 2016, prepared by the Centre for Eye Research Australia and Vision 2020 Australia, approximately 90% of vision impairment and blindness among Australians is preventable or treatable^.

Fear not! No matter what your age, there are steps you can take to help prevent cataracts or slow their development. But don't wait until your vision becomes affected to start thinking about cataracts—read on to discover healthy tips you can tackle today!

1. Keep Your Vices in Check

It's no secret that cigarettes pose a litany of health risks to you and those around you. But did you know it affects your eye health too? "Regular and heavy smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes generate many free radicals which oxidise the lens and cause it to become cloudy," explains Amanda Ang, a VSP network optometrist, with Clifford Chong Optometrist in Castle Hill, NSW. So if you need another reason to put down the pack, think about the future of your vision.

Have plans to head out to happy hour this week? Just remember to enjoy your beer, wine, and cocktails in moderation. Like cigarettes, excess alcohol consumption can pose a number of health risks, one of which is an increased chance of developing cataracts.

2. Eat Right

Studies suggest that those with diabetes are at greater risk for developing cataracts. That's why maintaining healthy blood sugar is so important— for both your overall health, and the health of your vision.

But a healthy diet should be a priority for all of us. Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as betacarotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E may also help ward off cataract development. "Several recent sample studies have suggested that a diet high in antioxidants may help combat the free radicals, which can cause the lens to become cloudy. Such foods high in antioxidants include broccoli, kale and blueberries," explains Amanda Ang.

3. Shade Your Eyes from the Sun

We've said it before and we'll say it again— protect yourself from UV rays and your eyes will thank you! "There is a well-established relationship between long hours of exposure to UV and the development of cataracts. We strongly encourage all patients, even the younger ones, to get into the habit of wearing sunglasses," explains Amanda Ang.

To reduce your exposure, wear a wide brimmed hat when spending time outdoors and always keep sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection close at hand in any season. If you need sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection, head over to the VSP Vision Care website to find your closest optometrist where you can try on all the latest sunglasses.

4. Visit Your Optometrist

Even if your vision is clear and healthy, make it a priority to schedule routine eye exams. Routine visits allow your eye care professional to look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other vision disorders. This early detection just may save your sight!

^Foreman, J., Keel, S., Xie, J., van Wijngaarden, P., Crowston, J., Taylor, H. and Dirani1, M. (2016), NEHS National Eye Health Survey, Available at: http://www.vision2020australia.org.au/uploads/resource/250/National-Eye-Health-Survey_Summary-Report_FINAL.pdf, [Accessed 13 March 2017].