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How to Prevent Cataracts: Tips, Diet & Lifestyle Changes

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent cataracts. But making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods, limiting alcohol, wearing sunglasses, and drinking water, can help reduce the likelihood of getting them. 

Below, we discuss different tips, diet, and lifestyle changes that can help prevent cataracts.

couple cooking and eating healthy

How to Prevent Cataracts

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataracts affect over 24 million Americans ages 40 and older. Factors such as age, gender, and family history can increase the likelihood of developing cataracts. But these tips can help you prevent or slow down the progression of cataracts. 

Eat healthy foods

According to research, eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods can lower your risk of developing cataracts. Antioxidants are good chemicals in your body that fights off bad chemicals delaying oxidation. Oxidation causes cataracts by damaging proteins and fats in your eye’s lens. 

Eating foods rich in antioxidants, like lutein, carotenoids, selenium, zeaxanthin, and vitamins A, C, and E, can help protect your cells from damage. Even if you have cataracts, these nutrients slow down cataracts’ growth. Healthy foods containing these nutrients include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oily fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds. 

Quit smoking

We all know smoking is bad for our hearts and lungs, but did you know that smoking is also harmful to your eye health? Cigarette smoke produces free radicals that harm your eyes, reducing the number of antioxidants in your body. These toxins accumulate and can cause cataracts.  

But you can control this risk by quitting smoking. When you quit smoking, your eyes heal from the damage caused by cigarette smoke. 

If you are a non-smoker, never start smoking. And if you’re a smoker, start a program with your doctor to help you quit smoking.

Limit alcohol consumption

According to a study published in the Journal of Optometry and Vision Science, drinking excess alcohol increases your chances of getting cataracts. Excess alcohol intake can prevent the liver and other organs from absorbing nutrients. This causes proteins and fats to accumulate in your body, leading to cataracts. 

You can control this risk by limiting your alcohol intake. That means consuming less than two standard-size drinks. If you have never drank, your chances of getting cataracts are even lower.  

Wear sunglasses

While sunglasses may appear to just be a trendy fashion accessory, they protect eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun. UV lights damage lens proteins in your eyes, leading to cataracts. 

When going out, wear appropriate sunglasses to protect your eyes. Select sunglasses that can:

  • Can screen out up to 99 percent of UVB and UVA rays.
  • Can block out about 90 percent of visible light.
  • Fit your face and are close to your eyes. 

Drink water

Did you know drinking enough water can help prevent cataracts? If you don’t hydrate, chances are your body will accumulate toxins. These toxins can affect your health, including your eyes, which can cause cataracts. 

Drinking enough water helps you flush out these toxins. Develop a habit of drinking water at regular intervals. 

The Best Foods for Cataract Prevention 

Eating a healthy diet full of antioxidants foods is one of the most effective ways to prevent the development of cataracts. According to optometrists, these are the foods to include in your diet to promote healthy eyes.

Fruits and vegetables

Did you know enjoying a plate full of fruits and vegetables can prevent vision loss through cataracts? Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that prevent cataracts. Besides, they contain carotenoids, which give them their color, reducing cataracts.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that adding vitamins and carotenoids to your diet can help reduce age-related cataracts. When shopping, aim to select fruits and vegetables with colors. 
Eating fruits with their skins can help reduce the risk of cataracts because they are full of zeaxanthin, lutein, and vitamin A, C, and E. 

Here is a list of fruits and vegetables to include in your grocery list:

  • Yellow pepper
  • Orange tangerine
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Tropical fruits

Whole grains

Including whole grain in your diet can help you reduce the risk of cataracts. Whole grains are full of nutrients like niacin, zinc, and vitamin E, which help keep healthy eyes. For instance, zinc protects your eye tissues from inflammation and light that can cause cataracts. 

Antioxidants and lutein, which are present in whole grain foods, also help to reduce oxidative stress. 

When shopping, selects less refined carbohydrates, such as these:

  • Millet
  • Wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Rye
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat

Fish and plant oils

Fish and plant oils can be great food to consume for eye health. They both have omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to visual development. A study published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology shows that taking omega-3 fatty helps to reduce the risk of cataracts. 

These foods contain a high amount of omega-3s: 

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola

Seeds and nuts

Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to keep healthy eyes. These are good choices: 

  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnut

Vitamins for Cataract Prevention

Certain vitamins promote overall eye health, and this can reduce the likelihood of developing cataracts.

Vitamin C

This vitamin can help slow cataracts’ growth by increasing the amount of this vitamin in the eye fluid. It also acts as a sunscreen, limiting the ability of UV lights to damage the eyes. 

These foods are rich in vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits
  •  Tropical fruits
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Kale 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your eyes from oxidative stress caused by UV light. To maintain proper eye health, include these foods in your diet as they are rich in vitamin E: 

  • Nut seeds
  • Almonds
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Salmon
  • Soybean
  • Corn oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Asparagus

Cataract Prevention FAQs

How to prevent cataracts naturally? 

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet helps to prevent cataracts. A healthy diet includes fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and oily fish.

Drinking water is another excellent way to prevent cataracts. Consuming enough water helps flush out harmful substances in your body.

How can cataract blindness be prevented?

The key to preventing cataract blindness is to have regular eye exams. An eye examination can help your optometrist detect cataracts at earlier stages. They can then help you monitor the condition and potentially slow its progression. Ask your doctor how often you should have your eyes examined.

What foods and vitamins prevent cataracts?

Antioxidant-rich foods, such as lutein and vitamins A, C, and E, can help prevent cataracts. They can also potentially slow down cataracts’ growth if you already have them. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, plant oils, and seafood are also excellent sources of antioxidants. 

References

  1. Can Nutrition Stop Cataracts? (September 2021). Optometrists Network.

  2. Diet and Nutrition. (November 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

  3. Diet and Nutrition. American Optometric Association (AOA).

  4. Dietary Vitamin and Carotenoid Intake and Risk of Age-Related Cataract.(January 2019). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

  5. Different Amounts of Alcohol Consumption and Cataract. (April 2015). Journal of the American Academy of Optometry: Optometry and Vision Science.

  6. New Research Sheds Light on How UV Rays May Contribute to Cataract. (June 2014). National Eye Institute (N.E.1)

  7. Nutrient Patterns and Risk of Cataract: A Case-Control Study. (April 2017). International Journal of Ophthalmology.

  8. Vitamin C and the Lens: New Insights into Delaying the Onset of Cataract. (October 2020). Nutrients.

  9. Vitamin E and Risk of Age-Related Cataract: A Meta-Analysis. (October 2015).  Journal of Public Health Nutrition.

Last Updated March 22, 2022

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