This an excerpt from our last WhatsApp group health presentation
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A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye.
For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.
Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with vision.
Cataracts are the principal cause of blindness in the world affecting more than 20 million people globally with over 90% of them in developing countries like Nigeria.
It is speculated that over 600,000 Nigerians may have cataracts by the year 2020.
How a cataract forms
The lens, where cataracts form, is positioned behind the colored part of your eye (iris).
The lens focuses light that passes into your eye, producing clear, sharp images on the retina — the light-sensitive membrane in the eye that functions like the film in a camera.
Around the not-so-old age bracket of the mid-40s, the human eye begins to experience biochemical changes involving the proteins within its lens.
These proteins harden and lose elasticity, which can then lead to vision problems.
One of the most common examples of this phenomenon is far-sightedness or the need for reading glasses in most people as they get older.
For some, the proteins in the lens (specifically the alpha crystallins) may clump together, forming cloudy areas on the eye lens called cataracts.
As the cataract continues to develop, the clouding becomes denser and involves a bigger part of the lens.
A cataract scatters and blocks the light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharply defined image from reaching your retina.
As a result, your vision becomes blurred.
Cataracts generally develop in both eyes, but not evenly.
The cataract in one eye may be more advanced than the other, causing a difference in vision between eyes.
Cataracts don’t appear out of nowhere. Typically, it takes them several years to slowly develop.
How images are seen
Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
⭕Clouded, blurred or dim vision.
⭕Increasing difficulty with vision at night.
⭕Need for brighter light for reading and other activities.
⭕Sensitivity to light and glare.
⭕Seeing “halos” around lights.
⭕Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
⭕Fading or yellowing of colors.
⭕Double vision in a single eye.
At first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye’s lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss.
As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens.
This may lead to more noticeable symptoms.
Types of cataracts
There are three different types of cataracts, named according to their locations:
⭕ Nuclear cataracts grow in the nucleus (inner core) of the eye’s lens.
May at first cause more nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision.
But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and further clouds your vision.
As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown.
Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color.
⭕ Cortical cataracts develop in the cortex (outer section of the lens). A cortical cataract begins as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the outer edge of the lens cortex.
As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend to the center and interfere with light passing through the center of the lens.
⭕ Posterior subcapsular cataracts form toward the back of a cellophane-like capsule that surrounds the lens.
A posterior subcapsular cataract starts as a small, opaque area that usually forms near the back of the lens, right in the path of light.
A posterior subcapsular cataract often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night.
These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than other types do.
These are most common in people who are diabetic, overweight or taking steroids.
Cataracts can also be classified by cause:
Age-related cataracts form as result of aging.
⭕ Congenital cataracts occur in babies who are born with cataracts as a result of an infection, injury or poor development before birth.
They can also develop during childhood.
⭕ Secondary cataracts are a result of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light or radiation.
⭕ Traumatic cataracts develop as the result of an injury to the eye.
There are many factors that put people at risk for cataracts, including:
⭕ Age —Aging is definitely the primary risk factor and cause of cataracts.
The older you are, the more likely you are to have cataracts.
Pretty much anyone who lives into elderly years will develop cataracts to some degree.
⭕ Gender — Women have a higher risk than men.
⭕ Race and ethnicity — African-Americans have nearly twice the risk of developing cataracts as Caucasians.
This is likely because African-Americans are more likely to have diabetes, a risk factor for cataracts.
Hispanic Americans are also more likely than Caucasians to develop cataracts.
⭕ Family history — Cataracts tend to run in families.
⭕ Glaucoma — Glaucoma and glaucoma treatments create higher cataract risk.
The glaucoma drugs that can increase risk for cataracts include demecarium (Humorsol), isoflurophate (Floropryl) and echothiophate (Phospholine).
⭕ Myopia — Nearsighted (myopic) people are at greater risk.
⭕ Uveitis — This rare chronic inflammation in the eye often caused by an autoimmune disease or response creates a high risk for cataracts.
⭕ Previous physical injury or surgery — A significant physical injury to the eye or intraocular eye surgery increases risk.
⭕ Diabetes — Type 1 or 2 diabetics are at very high risk for developing cataracts and much more likely to develop them younger.
⭕ Obesity — Often associated with type 2 diabetes, it may also be a risk factor for cataracts.
⭕ Autoimmune diseases and conditions requiring steroid use — Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions that need long-term steroid use can increase cataract likelihood.
⭕ Overexposure to sunlight — Being exposed to UVB radiation from sunlight increases the risk for cataracts, especially nuclear cataracts.
The risk may be greatest among people who had significant sun exposure in their youth.
Having a job that requires prolonged exposure to sunlight also increases risk.
⭕ Smoking and alcohol use — Smoking a pack a day of cigarettes doubles the risk of developing cataracts. Chronic heavy drinkers are also at great risk for cataracts and other eye problems.
⭕ Environmental factors — Long-term environmental lead exposure may increase the risk of developing cataracts.
Gold and copper accumulation may also cause cataracts.
Prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays) can increase cataract risk
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to cataracts.
•It is good to know that a cataract is not a film over the eye.
•It is not caused by overusing the eyes and cannot be spread from one eye to the other.
•It is also not a cause of irreversible blindness since surgery can remove cataracts & Lifestyle changes can reverse it if you act early enough.
It is said that cataracts aren’t completely preventable, but everyone seems to agree that their occurrence can definitely be delayed.
Studies suggest certain nutrients and nutritional supplements may reduce your risk of cataracts. Additionally, some very easy yet effective ways to prevent cataracts include:
⭕ Avoiding excessive sunlight exposure,
⭕ Limiting alcohol consumption,
⭕ Quitting smoking,
⭕ Eating plenty of fresh veggies and fruits.
Natural Cataract Treatment Remedies
By consuming more high-antioxidant foods, you protect your eyes from oxidative stress that contributes to cataracts.
Antioxidants also help to maintain the enzymatic pathways that prevent cataract formation.
▪ Fresh fruits and vegetables — Fruits and vegetables have high levels of important plant chemicals called phytochemicals.
Which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that have been shown to help prevent or delay the progression of eye disease, including cataracts.
▪ Vitamin A (beta-carotene)-rich foods — Vitamin A has been shown to prevent loss of vision caused by degenerative conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.
A lack of vitamin A causes the cornea to become very dry, which can lead to clouding of the front of the eye, corneal ulcers and vision loss.
Vitamin A deficiency can also damage the retina, which also contributes to blindness.
▪ Vitamin E-rich foods — Studies have shown that vitamin E reduces cataract formation.
▪ Zinc-rich foods — According to the American Optometric Association, zinc deficiency has also been tied to cloudy vision and poor night vision since it helps bring vitamin A from the liver into the retina.
▪ Lutein and zeaxanthin — These are the two carotenoids that have been most studied for cataract prevention.
They are super antioxidants found together in many vegetables. They’re also found together in the lenses of the eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy eye cells.
One study found that people with diets high in foods rich in zeaxanthin are up to 50 percent less likely to develop cataracts.
▪ Fish and omega-3 foods — Regularly eating fatty fish like salmon and other foods like chia seeds that are rich omega-3 fatty acid have been linked to a potentially reduced risk of cataracts or their progression.
One study found that women who ate fish at least three times a week rather than less than once a month lowered their risk of cataracts, and overall, total fish intake was inversely associated with cataract formation.
Since you cannot get enough of any of the nutrients above in food, high-quality supplements are an option for natural cataract prevention and treatment.
To get these supplements click on the link to order for yours. https://chat.whatsapp.com/IerK2d1zuyHLfNatNyzjdc
3. Sun Protection
UV light exposure can oxidize proteins in the eye, changing their structure and contributing to cataract development.
Increased exposure to sunlight has been linked to increased cataract risk.
Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight can help delay the formation of a cataract.
4. Lifestyle Modifications
Decreasing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are two lifestyle choices that can majorly decrease your cataract risk.
Studies have shown that daily consumption of one or more alcoholic drinks was associated with a modest increase in risk for cataract, but this risk increased with greater alcohol consumption.
Smoking has a negative effect on every aspect of health, including eye health.
Smoking definitely contributes to cataract development.
Research has shown that if you stop smoking, you don’t necessarily lower your risk of cataracts, but you do stop accumulating greater risk.
If you haven’t quit already, here is yet another reason to stop now🤷♂
Cataract Symptoms Precautions
If you notice any changes to your vision, you should always get an eye exam as soon as possible.
Left untreated, cataracts can continue to grow and progress and eventually cause blindness.
Most patients do well with cataract surgery and recover quickly.
If you also have macular degeneration or glaucoma, then it’s possible that your outcome may not be as good.
Poorer vision or blindness are not likely but are possible, so no one should be forced into cataract surgery.
It’s also a good idea to get a second opinion of a qualified ophthalmologist if you feel unsure about surgery.
Complications of cataract surgery can include:
⭕Infection or bleeding.
⭕ Swelling and inflammation can occur in the days or weeks after cataract surgery.
⭕ In rare cases, the retina at the back of the eye can become detached. Make sure to report floaters, flashes of light or a curtain-like vision loss to your ophthalmologist immediately.
These symptoms may indicate a retinal detachment has occurred.
⭕ Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the pressure of fluids inside the eye rises dangerously.
Risk is very low, but patients should definitely avoid activities after surgery that increase pressure on the eyes.
⭕ Poorer vision or blindness.
▪The older we get, the more likely cataracts become.
▪Cataracts don’t appear out of anywhere.
▪Typically, a cataract takes several years to slowly develop.
▪Most people opt for surgery when cataracts really start to interfere with their vision, but there are natural ways to prevent and slow the progression of a cataract.
▪A healthy lifestyle, especially a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, is key to overall eye health.
▪ You’re never too young (or old) to start taking preventative measures against cataracts so start today no matter your age!
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