What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Cataracts are very common as you get older. At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colourful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities.

 

The left lens is a clear, natural lens. The right lens shows clouding by cataracts.

 

Symptoms of Cataracts

Below are some symptoms of cataracts:

  • Having blurry vision
  • Seeing double (when you see two images instead of one)
  • Being extra sensitive to light
  • Having trouble seeing well at night, or needing more light when you read
  • Seeing bright colors as faded or yellow instead
  • Nearsightedness (in older people)

 

Prevention of Cataracts

While there are no clinically proven approaches to preventing cataracts, simple preventive strategies include:

  • Reducing exposure to sunlight through UV-blocking lenses
  • Decreasing or stopping smoking
  • Increasing antioxidant vitamin consumption by eating more leafy green vegetables and taking nutritional supplements

 

 

Can Good Nutrition Prevent Cataracts?

Nutrition is one promising way to prevent or delay the progression of cataracts. Some research studies show that the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E may protect against the development and progression of cataracts. Early evidence also suggests that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are also antioxidants, may also help protect against cataracts.

Some research shows that eating foods high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E may help prevent cataracts. If you already have cataracts, it may slow their growth.

 

Good sources of vitamin C

  • Citrus (oranges, grapefruit, limes, etc.)
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Red and green peppers
  • Kiwifruit
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Potatoes

For vitamin E, look to vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, or wheat germ. Nuts, especially almonds, are also good sources of vitamin E.

 

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Rich Foods

Eggs

Both lutein and zeaxanthin are found abundantly in egg yolks, offering significant protection against the sun’s harmful rays. Moreover, they also contain omega-3 fatty acid DHA that help to prevent eye damage.

 

Carrots

Research has proven that “carrots are good for your eyes” is more than folk wisdom. Lutein is one of the nutritional contents of carrots, also found in many yellow and orange veggies and fruits.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli offering both lutein and zeaxanthin abundantly, it helps prevent formation of free radicals in addition to lowering inflammation in the eye. Broccoli also grants protection from the sun’s harmful rays due to sulforaphane, another beneficial antioxidant found in it.

 

Avocados

Avocados are also considered as powerhouses for eye protection, densely packed with a variety of nutrients, such as beta-carotene, lutein, vitamins C, E and B6. All these nutrients are known to help prevent cataracts.

 

Walnuts

The ability of antioxidants and vitamin E is already known in fighting inflammations, and both of these are packed richly in walnuts. You also get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts, which specialize in converting into sight-saving DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

 

Bilberries

Resembling and closely related to huckleberries and blueberries, bilberries don’t only taste good, but are packed with eye-protecting nutrients like anthocyanins, the chemical ingredient responsible for dark purple hue of the fruit. Anthocyanins are great in fighting inflammation, also keeping the arteries and vessels of the eyes from narrowing.

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