Sunday, 27 January 2013

How to Prevent Cataracts

A cataract in this context means a loss of transparency of the lens of the eye, a condition which either impairs or destroys vision. There are several different types of cataracts, as follows: the traumatic type occurs from physical injury; the irradiation type occurs from exposure to rays; the complicated type occurs from ocular disease; and the congenital type occurs due to improper formation during fetal life.    

Cataracts, other than ones present at birth, are caused by injury, aging, heavy metal poisoning, X-rays, exposure to ultraviolet light, eye infections, the use of certain drugs such as steroids, arising as a consequence of diabetes or nutritional deficiencies in the diet. In diabetics, excess sugar in the blood migrates to the eyes causing them to swell resulting in damage.
If you engage in combative sports where there is physical contact like boxing or rugby union football, you are running the risk of sustaining an eye injury. However, the organisers of these sports do have trained medical staff in attendance at all times. The eyes should be protected by goggles if you are employed as welder, or in certain metal processes, likely to damage the eyes. If you are engaged in any of these activities, all the necessary precautions should be taken at all times to protect the eyes from any possible injury.
X-rays, beta rays and other radiation sources in sufficient doses can cause ocular injury. However, when these are used by professionals in the diagnosis of health problems, every possible safety precaution is taken. Ultraviolet radiation can damage the corneal epithelium. This is mainly the result of exposure to the sun at high altitude. Wear sunglasses if you are exposed to the sun when it is strongest, and don’t use sunbeds for tanning purposes without eye protection.
A small or underdeveloped optic nerve is known as optic nerve hypoplasia, and is one of the leading causes of vision problems or blindness in children. It occurs at the early stages of fetal development when the eyes are forming. If you suspect that your infant has vision problems, have your doctor carry out a CT or MRI scan to look for brain defects. There is no known treatment or cure for optic nerve hypoplasia at the present time.
If you are a type 1 diabetic, you need to take insulin shots as outlined by your doctor in order to ensure that your blood sugar levels do not fluctuate rapidly and thereby damage the eyes. If you are a type 2 diabetic, you can make sure your blood sugar levels move on an even keel by adhering to the diet, exercise and food supplement suggestions in my December 2012 post titled    “ How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes “.  If you are on drugs containing steroids for an ailment, such as gout for example, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce the risk of such treatment affecting your eyesight.
Cataracts arising as a consequence of aging or a nutritional deficiency can be prevented by adhering to a sensible diet. Apples, blueberries, coconuts, olives and pineapple are fruits that strengthen weak eyes.  Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, turnips, lettuce and watercress are vegetables that aid the eyes. Yeast, liver, kidney, cheese, oily fish, egg yolk and whole grains are foods that make sure you are not deficient in vitamin B2 or the mineral selenium. If you cannot get enough of these from food sources, then take supplements to make sure there isn’t a deficiency.

Herbs which can be taken to help the eyes in the ways indicated, are as follows: chaparral acts as an antioxidant, rebuilds tissue and is high in potassium; eyebright stimulates the liver to cleanse the blood with a beneficial knock –on effect on the eyes; and bilberry has a relaxing effect on the eyes. 

If you are interested in further information on eyesight, then a book I would recommend is titled The Eyes Have It by Earlyne Chaney. This is a self-help manual for better eyesight, and you should be able to pick up the paperback version from Amazon for less than $10.  


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