The clouding or blurriness of the lens – the clear part of the eye used to focus light onto the retina – is referred commonly as cataracts, one of the major causes of blindness, especially in older adults.
Cataract surgery for removing cataracts is one of the most common elective surgical procedures for adults, and more than half of Americans either suffer from cataracts by the age of 80, or have had a cataract surgery.
The Role of Free Radicals and Oxidation
Though researchers have not been successful in pinpointing the exact cause of cataracts, many believe free radicals or oxidation may be the biggest culprit. Free radicals, the unstable chemicals in the body, are formed due to exposure of environmental toxins, which might come from food, water and air. With the increase of free radicals in our environment, free radical damage also goes up. The contact of free radicals with our cell membranes or DNA can lead to cell weakness or ultimately, cell death.
In fact, oxidation is believed to play a part in every degenerative disease like heart diseases, cancer, natural aging as well as cataracts. The proteins and enzymes in the lens of the eye can be damaged by oxidation, leading to cataracts formation.
The Role of Antioxidants
As bad as the free radicals are considered for eye damage or other degenerative damages to the body, the antioxidants are considered as good. You can consider them as good molecules functioning to neutralize free radicals before they can damage the cells.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium are some of the most prominent antioxidants. These antioxidants, however, cannot be synthesized naturally by the body. So, they must be incorporated into the diet.
Let’s have a look at some of the most effective food sources that can help prevent cataracts, lowering the risk of this sight-threatening eye disease naturally:
Rich in astaxanthin, a carotenoid bestowing the salmons and lobsters their signature reddish color, it helps protect eyes from free-radical damage, regressing cataracts formation in the eyes. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is also found generously in salmons, the major type of omega-3 fatty acid. According to a study, women consuming fish 3 times a week had 11 percent lower risk of developing cataracts compared to women having fish only once a month.
Both leutein 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, known to help prevent eye damage.
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. Lutein, in combination with zeaxanthin, another carotenoid, contributes in absorption of harmful ultraviolet blue light found in sunrays.
Offering both lutein and zeaxanthin abundantly, broccoli 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 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.
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).
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. A Russia based study involving rats genetically modified with 70% higher risk of developing cataracts, revealed that bilberry extract prevented cataracts completely in that particular rat population.
Rich amounts of vitamin C found in orange juice make it ideal for reducing the risks for cataracts. Many scientific researches back this claim, such as the one carried out at Oregon Health and Science University, which concludes the vital role of vitamin C for nerve cells in the eye to function proficiently. Another study published by the “Journal of Nutrition” proved that vitamin C in high levels can reduce the risk of cataracts by 64 percent.
Research carried out at the University of Scranton highlights the significance of both black and green tea in reducing the levels of glucose in the eye lens of rats, cutting their risk of cataract straight into half. There’s also a Chinese research, according to which “catachins” (strong antioxidants present in green tea) offer considerable protection to eyes from glaucoma.
Limiting your intake of carbohydrates is also known to contribute in lowering your risks of developing cataracts. One Australian study published in “Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science” revealed that people consuming carbohydrates generously had a three times higher risk of developing cataracts compared to those who ate the fewest.
To conclude, you should adopt a healthier lifestyle focused at special care and concern for your eyes, and you can have a look at some tips specifically helpful in how to take good care of your eyes here.
Similarly, you should realize the significance of regular eye exam, one of the most reliable ways of timely identification and diagnosis of any irregularities with your eyes and vision. It is quite understandable that the sooner something wrong with your vision is identified, the higher and better will be your chances of recovering from that.
Moreover, you can also resort to contemporary low vision solutions like Iris Vision, one of the most reliable low vision aids the industry has come up with. It is designed to amplify low vision conditions caused by a host of sight threatening eye diseases other than cataracts as well, such as age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, optic nerve damage and so forth.
In fact, you can have a look at some of the most inspiring IrisVision customer stories highlighting how this FDA approved grade 1 medical device has helped them get the best of their leftover vision, making their lives independent and worth-living all over again.