A cataract is a condition related to the eyes. A condition where a dense layer on the lens is formed which reduces the vision is called a cataract. This article discusses the types of cataract, causes, and treatment along with nutrition to avoid early cataract.
In the human eye, there is a transparent, biconvex crystalline lens with refracting surfaces on both sides. It converges the light rays passing through it and focuses on the retina. The lens also has a special property to view the nearby and distant objects by adjusting its focal length. The retina acts as a screen which contains the sensory cells. The images formed by the lens on the retina are transformed into nerve impulses which are carried to the brain through the optic nerve. The lens forms a sharp image if it is clear. Normally as age advances, clumps are formed on the lens by the proteins resulting in cloudy vision. This condition, which results in the formation of a layer on the lens and blurred vision is known as a cataract.
The most common types of cataract are nuclear, cortical, sub-capsular and cataract.1
A cataract is common in old age usually above 40 to 50 years of age, but it can occur in people irrespective of age and gender. Researches are being carried to find out the precise cause regarding the formation of cataract as the individuals grow older.
In cataract, the lens becomes opaque and the quality of its optical characteristics gets decreased. As the type of cataract varies from person to person, the symptoms also vary.
Treatment of Cataract
The treatment of cataract depends upon the kind of cataract and the stage of it:
There are different glasses available for use like sunglasses, magnifying glasses, glasses prepared with new techniques, which would help to see in bright light. This is usually a temporary treatment of cataract
Removal of the lens is the solution when the above remedy does not work and/or when the cataract disturbs the daily activities like reading, writing, driving and watching TV, etc.
Surgery, if necessary for both the eyes would be carried out separately with a gap of a minimum of four weeks and the artificial intraocular lens is placed.
Rarely, there is one risk factor of cataract surgery, which may gradually lead to retinal detachment and it is a medical emergency. The presence of myopia may add up to the retinal detachment. Usually, the patients do not have any major problem with the vision or eye after surgery. Sometimes, in very few cases, problems like inflammation, low eye pressure, bleeding, infection, and loss of vision may occur. These should be attended immediately.
Nutrition to Avoid Early Cataract
According to some experts, cataract is caused by the variation in the production and functioning of some proteins and enzymes. This variation is believed to be the result of oxidative stress. Hence nutrition plays a vital role in regulating the species causing the oxidation. The substances are called antioxidants which are expected to be included in the diet. The main function of antioxidants is to bring down the number of free radicals which is known to damage the tissues.
Recent studies suggest that nutrients important for vision health include vitamins and minerals with antioxidants properties like vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids like lutein, B-carotene, and zeaxanthin, and zinc along with compounds with anti-inflammatory properties like omega-3-fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid.2 Adding foods rich in such compounds offer great nutrition to avoid early cataract.
Following are some of the foods to be included in the diet which are rich in antioxidants like vitamins and minerals.
- Fruits of three to four servings including papaya, cantaloupe, orange, strawberry, grapes, kiwi, bilberries, avocados
- Vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, turnip, corn, peas, potatoes, red pepper, carrot
- Peanut butter
- Almonds corn oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Fruit juices like grape juice, tomato juice, orange juice (all to be freshly prepared)
- Green leafy vegetable, for example, spinach, coriander, curry leaves
- Whole grains
- Brussels sprouts
- Fish (mostly salmon)
- Sprouted legumes
- Green tea
- Nuts like almond and walnut
All these foods not only help in the prevention of cataract but also help improve general eye health.
Protection of the Eyes
Taking care about eyes is very important to keep the eyes in a healthy condition. Some tips can be followed for the protection of eyes
- Using sunglasses
- Cleansing the eyes with pure and cold water once or twice a day
- Consuming a balanced diet
- Eye tests should be performed frequently
The blurring of vision may be because of different reasons. In the old age, cataract is common due to the process of aging. Knowing the types, causes, and treatment of cataract help to make an informed decision.
Although this is not a medical emergency, the ophthalmologists decide to remove the lens when they find that surgery will be an effective measure to solve the problem. In a few other cases, even though cataract is not causing many problems with the vision, the specialist may choose surgery if cataract interferes with the treatment of other diseases like diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. Proper care should be taken to protect the eyes. Nutrition to avoid early cataract includes foods rich in antioxidants. They can also help for speedy recovery during cataract surgeries.
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