Cataract is an age-related eye condition and it is the leading cause of death in the US. In India, about 63% of visual impairment cases are attributed to cataract. The Union Health Ministry had conducted a National Blindness Survey (2015 -2018) and the revelation was shocking. Nearly 62-65% of those who were randomly surveyed had a cataract. It is, therefore, one of the most common causes of blindness in India.
There is no way you can prevent cataract but some minor changes in diet and lifestyle can lower risk of getting them to some extent.
How dietary changes affect cataract?
Although the reason of cataract is not definitively known researchers have recently concluded that cataracts might be a result of oxidative stress and certain changes in diet may help to prevent cataract.
What is oxidative stress?
When there is an imbalance between the damage-prone free radicals in the body and the antioxidants that control them, it results in oxidative stress. In the eye, it affects the proteins and the fats thereby damaging the lens making them cloudy known as cataract.
Therefore a diet that is rich in antioxidants slow down the damaging process and might prevent the formation of cataracts. Besides diet, exposure to chemicals and pollutants, UV radiation from the sun and fluorescent light bulbs, and smoking also leads to cataract.
Healthy diet that can help in Cataract prevention
Studies have found that those who follow a healthy diet habit consistently have a much lower risk of developing a cataract in the later years than those who don’t. All the nutrition groups mentioned below are rich in antioxidants that protect the eyes from free radical damage, UV radiation from the sun and age-related visionary issues like cataract and macular degeneration.
(Read more on the symptoms and causes of cataract)
Here are some foods that are good for cataract
Eating a lot of Vitamin C and E can help to prevent cataract. And if you have cataracts already, a healthy antioxidant-rich diet can slow its growth.
Vitamin C-rich diet:
- Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, limes)
- Raw tomatoes and tomato juice
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin E-rich diet:
- Vegetable oils
- Olive oil
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Wheat germ
- Breakfast cereal
Lutein and zeaxanthin:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Red peppers
Avoid unhealthy and sodium-rich diet
Adopting a healthy diet means giving up on fried foods, soda, aerated drinks, processed food, and sugary snacks. All these foods are associated with an increased risk of cataract.
Also, researchers at the University of Sydney have found evidence that high salt intake increases the risk of cataract.
Avoid red meat
A study conducted at Oxford University has concluded that there is a link between red meat consumption and development of cataracts. Another study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has also established a correlation between meat eaters and cataract. They say that vegetarians are 40% less likely to develop cataracts than those who consume meat in large amounts.
Be mindful of what you eat. It can save your eyes and improve your vision.