Eye Health – Part 1 – Cataracts

As we sat in the Ophthalmologist office, waiting to see the doctor, I found myself thinking about the subject for this blog post, and here it is – Eye Health! I’m going to tackle this subject in 3 parts – Part 1 – Cataracts, Part 2- Glaucoma, and Part 3 – Macular Degeneration.

Eye health is one of the most important things for all of us. We only have one pair of eyes and we need to take the best care of the ones we have. There are way too many things that can go wrong and many of these things are in our control.

Unfortunately, some things like losing your sight through an accident that maybe could have been avoided, accidents do happen. However, if you lose your sight because of disease such as diabetes (which is controllable), it’s mainly on you.

There are many eye diseases that can be avoided by treating your eyes and your general health properly.

Have you ever done eye exercises? I have and think it’s something a lot of people believe is unimportant! I’ll tell you it’s not! Not unlike exercising your body, exercising your eyes on a regular basis can help to strengthen the eye muscles, especially if you have lazy eyes. How? Try some of these exercises every couple of days for a few weeks and see how your eyes feel:

  • Roll your eyes around in a circle. Do this in one direction for 5 circles, then stop for a couple of seconds and reverse direction for another 5 circles. Do this when your eyes get tired, or just whenever you think of it! Increase the circles as your eyes get more accustomed to the exercise. (Make sure you are sitting when doing this and many of the following exercises as you might get a bit dizzy.)
  • If you do a lot of reading, look away from the book, paper or your computer, and glance away in the distance. Pick something in the distance and focus on it for a couple of seconds (until it becomes fairly clear), then pick something fairly close to you (a couple of feet in front of you) and focus on that item for a couple of seconds. Do this several times.
  • Using your index finger, hold it in front of your eyes so that you feel as though your eyes are crossing, then slowly move your hand away (still focusing on the index finger) until your arm is fully stretched away from your body. Do this back and forth several times for a few minutes.
  • Look at a door frame and follow the outline stopping at its corners each time you reach one, then continue to the next corner. Outline the entire frame with your eyes a number of times, ensuring to stop at each corner. Now, go from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, then go from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. Do this entire exercise for about a 90 seconds.

Some common ailments many of us suffer with as we age are Cataracts, Glaucoma, and Macular Degeneration.

Cataracts seem to be something we all have, and seems surgery is the only answer. OK, so what is a cataract? It is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. There are three types of cataract – Nuclear (grows in the inner core of the eye lens), Corticol (grow in the outer section of the lens), and Posterior sub-capsular cataracts (grow in the capsule that surrounds the lens). They are also categorized by: Age related (as we age), Congenital (born with them), Secondary (as a result of another medical condition), and Traumatic (result of an injury).

How do you know you have cataracts? You may have: vision that is cloudy, filmy, blurry, or foggy; nearsightedness; changes in the way you see colours; problems with driving at night and even daytime glare; current glasses aren’t working well for you or you have double vision in the affected eye(s). If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to see your eye doctor/specialist as soon as possible to get a clear diagnosis.

Scientists have been working to get something that might help with cataracts that doesn’t require surgery. Well, it seems there is an eye drop that is being developed, but has yet to be run in human trials. Currently, it has been successful in remedying cataracts in dogs, so humans are probably next in line for these trials. But, there are other non-surgical ways in which you can help to avoid, slow down the growth, or perhaps even improve on clearing eyesight. These ways are with: Diet – eat more fruits and vegetables daily, including: foods rich in Vitamins A (leafy green vegetables), C (peppers, citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, broccoli and tomatoes), and E (almonds, spinach, wheat germ and sweet potato), Zinc (grass-fed beef, kefir, yogurt, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds); Lutein and zeaxanthin (spinach, kale and broccoli, and eggs), fish and omega 3 – eating fish 3 times a week is in total co-relation to cataract health and can lower the risk of cataracts; Supplements (it’s preferable to get your nutrients from food, but it’s not always possible) such as bilberry which is used traditionally to help protect against cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration; Sun protection – make sure to wear eye protection whenever out in the sun to help reduce the risk of eye health issues; Lifestyle modifications – smoking and drinking are known health risks, but also for the eyes; and the possible upcoming Eye Drop intervention – drops containing Lanosterol have been tested on 3 dogs that cleared their vision after 6 weeks of using these drops – unfortunately, it’s not yet available for human use at this time.

Who is at risk for cataracts? Well, just about everyone is at risk, but those most at risk are people who – are women, older that 40, have diabetes, smoke, have overexposure to sunlight, and are on steroid medications.

I recently saw an article on cataracts in people from East India. It seems their population has an overabundance of cataracts. Apparently more than 13 million East Indian people suffer from cataracts and they don’t have the money or can’t get treatment for this serious eye issue. A lot of these people are born with this affliction. My heart goes out to those who are suffering.

Next weeks article will be about Glaucoma.

In the meantime, have a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.