Age 40 is a momentous age for many people. It’s a time when there are some distinctive mind and body changes – differences that have much to do with metabolism, skin and hair. Thankfully, resiliency is also known to surface around this time!
Age, in fact, affects the eyes, too. There are currently 24-million Americans age 40 and older who have cataracts, according to a report put out by Prevent Blindness America. Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens which blocks or changes the passage of light, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and is usually just an unfortunate part of getting older.
However, cataract surgery is available, and with a 95-percent success rate. That’s pretty remarkable. But just how do you know you have cataracts when there is no pain to feel, redness to see or tears to show?
The one main symptom of cataracts is that you simply have changes to your vision. Things become blurred; certain lights are uncomfortable; you might see through a ghost-like film or feel the need to change your eye glass prescription … again. Some people even see a yellowish spot in the pupil.
When these things persist, it’s time to see the doctor. Since it is Cataract Awareness Month, Health Net wants you to be on the look-out for risk factors when it comes to your eyes and cataracts.
- Exposure to UV rays: Wear sunglasses or a hat while in the sun to protect your eyes against intense heat and UV rays.
- Disease history: Do you have diabetes or a metabolic disorder? There are certain diseases that often go hand-in-hand with cataracts. Ask your doctor for clarification on any disease you might have.
- Inflamed eye(s): Don’t ignore puffiness, itching or burning. See a board-certified ophthalmologist right away to clear up any existing infection.
- Injured eyes: Eye injuries – no matter how far in the past – can play a role in developing cataracts. Make sure to mention this to your doctor.
- While in the womb: It’s known that exposure to certain things like German measles, while you were in your mother’s womb, can make you at greater risk for cataracts.
- Hereditary: Do your parents have cataracts? If so, this automatically makes you more susceptible.
- Drug use and smoking: Stay away from long-term use of corticosteroid or steroid medications. Talk to your doctor about alternative medications that you can safely take. And, if you smoke, let this be one more reason to stop.
As with everything related to your health, what you eat can help ward off disease and illness. Eat more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins C, E and A for optimum eye health. Make sure you get those greens in your diet, too: kale, spinach, broccoli and peas are a great source of antioxidants. So keep your sight on a healthy diet, your family history and preventative measures. Being mindful of these things will help keep your eyes in the best health possible. For more information on your eyes, visit The Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.
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