Cataracts are a common problem in older individuals, and they cause blurry vision, vision loss and blindness. While many healthy people develop them, there are some dangerous habits that increase the risk of developing cataracts, so check out these four dangerous habits you should avoid to lessen your chances of developing cataracts.
You probably already know that smoking tobacco is dangerous for you, but here's one more reason to stop: it can increase your risk of cataracts. At least 50 percent of Americans will have had a cataract or surgery for cataracts by the time they are 80, and smoking doubles your chances of forming cataracts. However, the more you smoke, the higher your risk rises. For example, heavy smokers are actually three times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.
Everyone knows about the benefits of antioxidants. They help keep your body younger. However, tobacco causes oxidation, and one of the leading causes of cataracts is oxidants. The tobacco affects your lens by increasing oxidation, which damages the lens and speeds aging, leading to clouding of the lens.
Drinking Alcohol Excessively
A glass of wine here and there is fine, but drinking excessively can lead to eye problems. That doesn't just mean a bit of fuzzy vision while you're drunk. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to long-term eye damage, such as cataracts. As with smoking, the more you drink, the higher the risk of developing cataracts.
Overdrinking, like smoking, can cause your body to age faster. It dehydrates you and removes important vitamins, which can allow the lens to age faster and become damaged easier, leading to cataracts. It's also important to know that, along with many more serious defects, infants are more likely to be born with cataracts if their mothers abused alcohol while pregnant.
Overeating is never a good idea because it leads to obesity, which increases your risk of just about everything. Being obese alone can increase your risk of cataracts, but if you're eating the wrong types of foods, you might also suffer from poor nutrition, which causes you to be deficient in antioxidants and important vitamins that keep your eyes healthy.
Another problem with overeating is that being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet and not getting enough exercise are all big risk factors of type 2 diabetes. If you're diabetic and don't manage your glucose levels well, this can cause the lens to absorb too much glucose. This glucose is converted to sorbitol, which can affect the proteins in the lens and lead to cataracts.
Spending Lots of Time in the Sun
Spending time in the sun can be fun and it gives you plenty of vitamin D, but unless you are wearing sunscreen and sunglasses, spending too much time in the sun can be dangerous. True, it is nice to get a golden tan, but UV rays can cause serious damage and not just to your skin. They can damage your eyes too.
UV light is a type of radiation, and radiation in large quantities is dangerous, especially to delicate eye tissue. Your cornea and other parts of the eye actually absorb the radiation in the sunlight. When this happens, your eyes suffer a sunburn, much like your skin suffers when exposed to the sun for too long. Overtime, this damage can lead to several types of eye problems, including cataracts.
Cataracts are common and can be treated, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to prevent them. If you practice any of these unhealthy habits, stop now. If you have already developed a cataract, contact your eye doctor today to discuss cataract surgery options.