Family history and age are risk factors for cataracts, but eating nutrient-dense foods can help protect your vision and possibly lower your cataract risk.
What Is a Cataract?
Cataracts are quite common with age, and they form when proteins in the eye lens clump together and form a cloudy area. In fact, about half of all Americans 80 or older have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. A developing cataract often has no symptoms. Over time, however, you may notice the following issues:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty driving at night
- The appearance of glares or halos
- Images appear faded or yellowed
Foods That Fight Against Cataracts
Certain foods may help reduce your risk for cataracts or delay cataract development.
Eggs are a high-quality protein recommended for most adults for a heart-healthy diet. In addition, egg yolks are high in zeaxanthin, a pigment that promotes eye health. One study found that for every 10 milligrams of zeaxanthin, patients experienced a 26 percent decrease in cataract development.
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which is associated with lower cataract risk. It also contains high amounts of selenium and iodine. Some plant-based good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Vitamin C significantly impacts eye health, especially when it comes to cataracts. Studies show that higher levels of vitamin C reduce the risk of a cataract. Kiwi has more vitamin C than any commonly eaten fruit. In particular, SunGold kiwi is among the most nutritionally dense fruits and contains more than 100 percent of the recommended vitamin C intake.
Research proves that diets rich in vitamins A and E are associated with fewer cataracts. One serving of pumpkin provides 300 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E and 10 percent of vitamin A. You don’t have to wait until fall to indulge in pumpkin. Add pumpkin puree to smoothies, muffins and oatmeal.
Other Ways to Prevent Cataracts
Besides fighting cataracts with your fork, you can make a few lifestyle changes to prevent or delay cataracts. These can include the following methods:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Not smoking
- Wearing sunscreen and UV-blocking sunglasses outdoors
Comprehensive Eye Exams Diagnose Cataracts Early
How long has it been since you had a comprehensive eye exam? Your ophthalmologist can detect a developing cataract during your exam. Not all cataracts require surgery immediately, but your doctor can discuss a treatment plan and an appropriate timeline. Surgery is the only way to eliminate a cataract, so you will want to schedule the procedure once the cataract begins interfering with everyday tasks like driving, cooking, reading or house chores.
Call your ophthalmologist and make an appointment for eye exams for the entire family. Nothing can replace healthy vision.