BLOG: Healthy living tips to help reduce the risk of cataracts

You may have given up your favourite snack or treat for Lent, or you may just be looking to make a positive change to your health and wellbeing, but did you know that healthy eating also has many benefits to your eye health too? 

Whilst you might do this with the aim of losing weight or getting fit, leading a healthy lifestyle has lots of benefits when it comes to looking after your eyes. 

Unfortunately there isn’t a way to actually prevent cataractsbut there are a variety of things that doctors believe we can do to help reduce the risk of getting cataracts. 

These are 4 ways in which you can help reduce the risk of cataracts: 
  • Stop smoking – smoking can increase the risk of cataracts. If you need help to quit, contact your doctor and they’ll be able to advise you on which of the many options is likely to work best for you. 
  • Drink less alcohol – drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has also been linked to increased risk of cataracts, so reducing the amount that you drink can help to reduce your risk of cataracts. 
  • Wear sunglasses – it’s thought that UV rays from the sun can contribute to the development of cataracts. By wearing sunglasses that reduce UVB rays when you’re outside, you can reduce the damage that UV rays cause to your eyes and potentially reduce the risk of cataracts, as well. 
  • Eat healthily – eating a healthy, varied diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables ensures that you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients necessary for both eye health and your general health and wellbeing. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help to maintain the health of your eyes. Studies have shown that eating a vitamin and mineral rich diet, containing lots of fruit and vegetables, is associated with reduced risk of cataracts.  

On the subject of healthy eating, there are some foods that are particularly helpful in preventing cataracts – foods that are high in something called lutein.

What is lutein? 

Found largely in leafy green vegetables foods rich in lutein include egg yolks, broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, orange juice, zucchini and squash. Lutein is a carotenoid antioxidant that has been linked to reducing the risk, or, postponing the onset, of eye conditions such as cataracts. 

How does it help prevent cataracts?

There is significant scientific evidence that suggests that lutein helps to stave off cataracts. Indeed, evidence suggests that a regular and healthy intake of lutein in a person’s diet can help protect the eyes against cataracts, macular degeneration and other ocular conditions. 

In addition to lutein, vitamins C and E, glutathione, polyphenols, omega-3, manganese and zinc have all been linked to improved eye health, as well. 

A healthy, nutritious and varied diet, consisting of substantial amounts of fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, fish and meat will, without a shadow of a doubt, help you to maintain not just healthy eyes, but your general health as well. 

The key message regarding lutein itself? Eat leafy, green vegetables every day, and/or take a well-balanced vitamin supplement that contains a variety of antioxidants and nutrients. 

So, although, you can’t categorically prevent cataracts, there are ways to help reduce the risk of getting them. 

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