I am Taz, and today I want to talk to you about vision and, in particular, cataracts. As you may know I am a hunter. My hunting instinct requires a sharp vision. While my fellow human beings are able to see more vibrant colors during the day, I am able to see better when it comes to peripheral vision and night vision, all owing to my wider field of view — about 200 degrees, compared to humans’ 180-degree view, as well as my greater range of peripheral vision to spot anything wiggling in the corner of the room.
My vision is starting to get cloudy as I am aging. This is caused by cataracts which is clouding of the lens in the eye. On top of that I have diabetes, a common risk factor for cataracts. According to NewsUSA, cataracts can be caused by eye injuries, some medications, and diseases such as diabetes. The National Eye Institute says that by age 80, more than half of all Americans will have cataracts. While cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, they aren’t preventable. The good news is they are treatable!
The Cause of Vision Loss
As the eye’s lens grows older its cells die and accumulate behind the pupil. The result is blurred vision and “fuzzy” images. In the early stages, vision problems can be treated with stronger eyeglasses. At a certain point, however, cataract surgery may be necessary. There are several surgical treatments options for restoring vision loss as a result of cataracts, such as Lasik. As with any type of surgery risks exist, but Lasik has an extremely high success rate.
Myths and Cataracts
One myth is that eye drops can prevent or dissolve cataracts. That’s not true! Cataracts cannot be removed by any means other than surgery, as they are behind the pupil in the lens. The FDA has not approved any kind of drops that can cure or delay the development of cataracts.
Another myth has to do with how people use their eyes. Many think that eye stain, or close-up tasks such as reading or sewing can worsen cataracts. That’s not true either. Cataracts most likely become more noticeable during close-up tasks. Those suffering from cataracts often need more light to do the same activities. Moreover, cataracts will worsen the longer they are untreated regardless of the eye’s activity.
The last myth is that cataracts are reversible. The eye lens naturally clouds with age, and this process cannot be avoided. Certain lifestyle changes can slow the progress of cataracts slightly, such as better diet, wearing sunglasses, or eating a more balanced diet. However if left untreated, the clouding process will accelerate eventually causing severe vision loss.
Speaking of a well balanced diet, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently released a study that showed a strong relation between the risk of cataract and diet. The risk of cataracts decreased significantly from high volume meat eaters to low volume meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Research concluded that a lower risk of developing cataracts was found in people with a high amount of vegetables in their diet. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery, corn, peas, squash, and carrots are all known as good sources of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C, which all promote good eye health.