Cataract Prevention
Can You Prevent Cataracts?

Reviewed by:

Rajesh Rajpal, MD & Jason Jacobs, MD

The prevention of Cataracts may be an important topic to think about since as the baby boomers age, it is projected that by the year 2020 there will be more than 30 million people in the United States affected by Cataracts. Can you actually prevent Cataracts from forming? The answer is-probably not! But there are some basic lifestyle choices that you can make that may slow down the onset of a Cataract or the progression of Cataracts if you cannot prevent them altogether.

Regular Eye Exams for Cataracts & Eye Health

While regular eye exams cannot prevent a Cataract from forming, they can help with their early detection. Early detection of Cataracts can facilitate your eye doctor making sure that your overall eye health is good and that the structures inside your eye appear normal for your age. If you are over 65 and no other medical, eye or family history of significance then an eye exam every two years is acceptable. However, if you have any history of hypertension, diabetes, take medications for other systemic health problems or have a family history of any eye problems such as Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration or especially Cataracts-it is necessary to have your eyes examined more often. Your eye doctor can make specific recommendations about the frequency of your eye exams.

Avoid Smoking to Avoid Cataracts

Many clinical studies over many years have proven a definitive relationship between smoking and developing Cataracts. If you don't smoke-don't start. If you do smoke-STOP! If you are around people who smoke-try and keep your environment well ventilated and try not to breath the smoke.

Eat Well to Prevent Cataracts

While there is only inconclusive research to suggest that diet prevents Cataracts, there is some data that does suggest that eating a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables may have a small effect on Cataract prevention. Foods that contain the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent Cataracts by minimizing the effects of harmful UV exposure. Eating healthy food is a good thing for your overall health. On the other hand there is research that is strongly suggestive of a diet high in unsaturated fats and carbohydrates may predispose you to a metabolic state that puts you at risk for Cataracts.

Wear UV Protecting Sunglasses to Prevent Cataracts

It is well known that excessive exposure to UV from sunlight can predispose you to Cataract formation. Make sure to wear UV protecting sunglasses when you are in the sun. Be particular about the sunglasses that you purchase-they should have UV-B blocking characteristics in order to be effective in Cataract prevention.

Maintain Your Overall Health to Avoid Cataracts

Take the time necessary to get regular medical care for other health problems and especially those that have a relationship to Cataract formation such as Diabetes, or require medications known to promote Cataract formation such as Asthma and certain mental health conditions. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Work to maintain your health-stay healthy.

The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients an overview of Cataract prevention and lifestyle choices that may help to delay the onset or progression of Cataracts. While it is not likely to be possible to prevent Cataracts with any degree of certainty, some lifestyle choices may be sensible for you to pursue. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute or replace your physician’s consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your surgeon about specific details regarding the symptoms, types and development of Cataracts or the need for Cataract Surgery.

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