Cataracts are a sign of aging that affects the eyes and impairs vision. Until then, this was considered unavoidable, but a study with twins suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C could slow the progression of cataracts by a third in 10 years.
Cataracts, which occur naturally with age, remain a major cause of blindness worldwide. Researchers at King’s College London have studied the effects that certain nutrients may have in preventing the progression of the condition, and have also distinguished between environmental (including diet) and genetic effects. To do this, they reviewed data from more than 1,000 sets of twins in the UK.
Antioxidants protect the eyes
They have carefully studied the intake of several nutrients, hence vitamins A, B, C, D, E, as well as copper, manganese, and zinc. Cataract progression was assessed by digital imaging at approximately 60 years of age. After 10 years, 324 twin pair measurements were performed again. The antioxidant properties of nutrients are thought to help protect the eyes from oxidative damage, and hence from cataracts.
Vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts by 33 percent.
Initially, eating a vitamin C-rich diet is associated with a 20% reduction in the risk of cataracts. And 10 years later, women who reported taking the most vitamin C sources found a 33% reduction in the risk of cataract progression. The study also indicates that genetic factors contribute to cataract progression in 35% and environmental factors in 65%.
Different types of cataracts
There are different types of cataracts. Some of them are not age related.
- – Secondary cataracts: may develop after eye surgery due to other pathologies such as glaucoma or due to health problems such as diabetes. Steroid use may increase the risk.
- – Traumatic cataract: Injury to the eye can lead to cataracts even after several years.
- – Radiation cataracts: Exposure to certain types of radiation can lead to cataracts.
– Congenital cataracts: Cataracts can occur at birth, often in both eyes. This does not always affect vision, but if so, surgery may be needed.
How to prevent cataracts
To reduce the number of complications of cataracts, it is best to check your eyes regularly, especially as you get older.
These tips can reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Some have been shown to be effective and others have not.
– Stop smoking: Smoking increases the risk of many eye diseases, and studies show a threefold increase in cataracts. It also seems that smokers may have earlier symptoms of cataracts.
– Diet: A healthy diet reduces the risk of disease, including eye problems. A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, good quality fats such as avocado, olive oil and omega oils, and proteins of vegetable or lean animal origin.
– Lutein and zeaxanthin have been described as ‘promising’ for cataract prevention.
– Obesity and diabetes: Obesity significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight and controlling diabetes can reduce this risk.
Other factors can help prevent cataracts:
- – Wear sunglasses that block UV rays when you are in the sun.
- – Sleep quality for at least 7 hours each night.
risk factors for cataracts
There are many factors that put you at risk for cataracts, including:
Aging is undoubtedly a major risk factor and a major cause of cataracts. The older you are, the more likely you are to have cataracts. Almost everyone who reaches adulthood will develop cataracts to some degree.
Women are at higher risk than men.
Cataracts are most common in families.
Glaucoma and glaucoma treatment increase the risk of cataracts.
Short-sighted people are at higher risk.
This rare chronic inflammation of the eye, often caused by a disease or autoimmune reaction, carries a high risk of cataracts.
Previous physical trauma or surgery
Severe physical eye injury or intraocular eye surgery increases the risk.
People with type 1 or 2 diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cataracts and are much more likely to develop them at a younger age.
Often associated with type 2 diabetes, it can also be a risk factor for cataracts.
Autoimmune diseases and conditions requiring steroid use
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions that require long-term use of steroids may increase the risk of cataracts.
Excessive sun exposure
Exposure to the sun’s UVB rays increases the risk of cataracts. The risk may be higher for people who have often been in the sun in their youth. The risk is also increased by work that requires a long stay in the sun.
Smoking and alcohol consumption
Smoking a pack of cigarettes per day doubles the risk of developing cataracts. Regular alcohol users are at high risk for cataracts and other eye problems.
Prolonged exposure to lead in the environment may increase the risk of developing cataracts. Accumulation of gold and copper can also cause cataracts. Prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays) may increase the risk of cataracts.
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