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 is considered to be one of the most successful clinical managements in the healthcare sector with direct improvements in visual acuity as well as reduced mortality according to a report in 2020 by National Institute of Health.
The number of cataract patients expected to reach 30.1 million in 2020 according to the same report.
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
Similar to the way free radicals are considered harmful for the eyes as well as causing degenerative damages – antioxidants play the opposite role. 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. There is some evidence that states bilberry is used to treat eye disorders such as cataract as also suggested by however, there is no empirical evidence to support that bilberry is effective in treating eye conditions apart from the retinal disorders. Bilberry is also used for multiple age-related ocular disorders as reported by a Russian comparative study published in National Library of Medicine.
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. Whereas another study published in American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that a rich diet in vitamin C could cut risk of cataract progression by a third.
In light of the findings of a Chinese cross-sectional study published in National Institute of Health, reasonable tea consumption (i.e., consuming green tea on an average of over 500 mL per day at moderate concentration) should offer protection against age-related cataracts.
Intake of Carbohydrates
Limiting your intake of carbohydrates is also known to contribute in lowering your risks of developing cataracts. Carbohydrate intake is not entirely responsible for cataract development, as it effects differently in the presence of reduce glucose tolerance as reported in the study Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. The relationship is dependent upon the pre-diabetes status of the individual.
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 IrisVision, 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.