June is National Cataract Awareness Month. Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Cataracts can occur at any age because of a variety of causes, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology indicates 70 percent of adults will develop cataracts by age 75.
Your eyes are an important part of your health. In addition to having routine eye exams, here are some other tips to protect you from cataracts and other eye diseases and make sure you’re seeing your best.
- Know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since many are hereditary. This information will help to determine if you’re at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.
- Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
- Quit smoking or never start. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
- Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard that carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.