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Posts tagged ‘cataracts’

Some Facts About Cataracts

CataractA person’s age plays a big role in the risk of a cataract. By the age of 80, more than 50% of Americans have developed some degree of a cataract in one or both eyes.  By age 95, that percentage jumps to almost 100%.

Although it is rare, a cataract can also form in children and even new-born infants.

No matter what your age, it’s beneficial to gain a basic understanding of what a cataract is, how to limit the risk of developing a cataract and what can be done if one does form.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is an eye disease where the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The lens of the eye is typically clear like a clean window. This allows light to pass through and provide a sharp image to the retina of the eye.  A cataract causes light passing through the lens to become distorted and cast an imperfect image on the retina resulting in blurred vision. The extent of the impaired vision is related to the level of cloudiness in the lens.

A cataract can develop in one eye or cataracts may affect both eyes. Cataracts are not contagious nor do they cause physical pain.

Preventing Cataracts

There are many steps you can take to limit the risk of a cataract. Staying healthy, avoiding certain lifestyle habits and having regularly scheduled eye exams performed on your eyes are all at the top of the list.

Research shows eating healthy and nutritious foods has a significant impact on your chances of developing a cataract. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition state a diet high in fruits and vegetables aids in the prevention of cataract development due to the high antioxidant content of these foods.

Healthy diets and lifestyles also reduce the risk of developing health conditions which increase the chances of a cataract forming. Diabetes is one of the most notable health issues where the risks of cataracts are highly elevated.

Smoking and the over consumption of alcohol may also increase the chances of cataracts.  Studies show people who smoke a pack of cigarettes per day may double their risk of developing a cataract.

To address the risk of radiation related cataracts, proper sunglasses should be worn outside by people of all ages (including children) to protect the eyes from UV exposure.

Regular eye exams performed by an experienced eye care professional are also critical to reducing the risk of cataracts and limiting the impact on clear vision if a cataract does form.

What to Do If a Cataract Develops

Cataracts won’t just ‘go away’.  Some cataracts do stop progressing while others continue to grow and progress to the point where they will cause blindness if left untreated.

Cataract surgery is currently the only remedy for removing a cataract. It is one of the most common types of eye surgery performed in the United States today. However, the need for surgery is usually not immediate. Cataracts may be properly managed with the use of corrective lenses and it may take many years before surgery is necessary.

If a cataract does develop, it’s important to seek and follow the care and guidance of a qualified eye doctor to deal with a cataract and determine if our when cataract surgery is appropriate for you.

To learn about a company and a team of eye care professionals that have been providing their patients with quality eye care and eye wear for more than 30 years, please visit www.shawneeoptical.com.

Eye Health and Diabetes

eye health and diabetesThis month (November) is American Diabetes Month and brings with it a focus on stopping this growing disease. The American Diabetes Association reports that over 26 million children and adults in the United States live with diabetes. An even more staggering statistic is the number of Americans at high risk for developing the disease. That total is estimated to currently exceed 79 million people. Diabetes is having a dramatically negative impact on the physical, emotional and financial welfare of this country.

Diabetes can be detrimental to your vision and overall eye health. Regularly scheduled visits to your optometrist are essential in helping to detect the disease and preventing or treating diabetes-related eye problems if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease caused by either (1) the inability of the pancreas to produce a hormone called insulin or; (2) the body’s inability to use the insulin properly. When you eat food or drink a beverage, the body’s digestive system begins to break down the food into sugars or glucose. The sugars pass into the bloodstream and are transported to the body’s cells via insulin.

Under normal conditions, the pancreas produces the correct amount of insulin to accommodate the levels of sugar. With diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, the pancreas produces no insulin whatsoever or the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin. As a result of one or more of these conditions, sugar levels in the blood build up, which is commonly referred to as “high blood sugar”

The Effects of High Blood Sugar on Vision

High blood sugar associated with diabetes causes the lens of the eye to swell and may blur vision. To correct this type of eye problem, blood sugar levels must be controlled and restored to normal levels. The blurred vision from high blood sugar levels is typically a temporary situation and a corrective lens is not necessary.

Common Eye Problems Linked to Diabetes   

The three (3) most common eye problems that may develop as a result of diabetes are Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.

Anyone can develop cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye). However, diabetics are susceptible to developing cataracts at younger ages. In addition, cataracts are likely to progress at a more rapid pace with diabetics compared to people with cataracts that do not have diabetes.

Glaucoma is a build-up of pressure in the eye due to the inability of fluid to drain properly from the eye. The excess pressure damages nerves and blood vessels in the eye and impairs vision.

The duration of one’s diabetes is the most contributing factor to the development of diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, the longer a person lives with diabetes the more risk of this serious eye condition. Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels in the retina of the eye as a result of diabetes.

Preventing Eye Problems with Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association offers the following eye care guidelines for people with diabetes to help prevent eye problems:

(1) People with type 1 diabetes should have a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist within three to five years after diagnosis.

(2) People with type 2 diabetes should have a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist shortly after diagnosis.

(3) Annual eye exams should be done with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes by an ophthalmologist or optometrist; more frequently if necessary.

(4) When considering pregnancy, women with a history of diabetes should have an eye exam prior and during pregnancy. This does not pertain to women with gestational diabetes.

(5) To prevent eye problems in diabetes, you should:

  • Control your blood sugar
  • Control high blood pressure

Talk to Your Eye Doctor       

Your optometrist can play a very important role if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. It’s important to notify him or her of the disease in order to formulate a plan to keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy.

To learn more about quality eye care and eye wear, please Contact Us or visit http://www.shawneeoptical.com.

An Eye Diet Plan for All Ages

We are bombarded with the latest and greatest diet plans to help us lose weight and look like a movie star.  While it’s unrealistic for any one diet plan to fit the needs of everyone, many of these diet plans do focus on the importance of providing your body with healthy foods, rich in nutrients essential for your body to perform at optimal levels.

Your eyes are no different. Clear vision and healthy eyes are reliant on proper nutrition. The next time you are in the grocery store or open the refrigerator door to “see” what looks good, ask yourself if that particular food is beneficial to your eye health and overall vision.

Antioxidants

You have probably heard how antioxidants are critical in the prevention of heart diseases and cancers. Just like other parts of your body, they are also very important in the prevention of eye diseases. Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Here’s a list of a few key vitamins and minerals (nutrients) vital to maximizing eye health and maintaining clear vision:

Vitamin A    

Vitamin A helps the retina function properly as well as reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods rich in Vitamin A include, but are not limited to:

  • Liver (Beef liver, Chicken liver, Turkey liver)
  • Paprika
  • Carrots
  • Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Herbs (Parsley, Thyme, etc.)
  • Butternut Squash

Vitamin C

Vitamin C also helps reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. Foods rich in Vitamin C include, but are not limited to:

  • Citrus Fruits  (Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes)
  • Strawberries
  • Tropical Fruits (Papaya and Kiwi)
  • Chili Peppers
  • Dark Leafy Greens (Kale, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens,  Spinach, Lettuces)
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
  • Fresh Herbs (Thyme, Parsley, etc.)
  • Guavas

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to help prevent cataracts and slow the growth of cataracts that have developed.  Foods rich in Vitamin E include, but are not limited to:

  • Tropical Fruits such as Papaya and Kiwi  (Note how these fruits contain more than just one beneficial vitamin)
  • Wheat germ (Most Vitamin E is found in the germ)
  • Nuts and Seeds (Almonds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Pecans, Macadamias, Sunflower Seeds)
  • Dark Leafy Greens such as Spinach, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard and Kale  (Note how these foods contains many essentials vitamins and minerals)
  • Oils (Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Corn Oil)

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for eye health. In fact, zinc concentrations in the eyes are higher than any other part of the human body. People with macular degeneration typically have low levels of zinc in the retina. Eating foods rich in zinc can help prevent macular degeneration. Foods high in zinc include, but are not limited to:

  •  Beef
  • Pork
  • Oysters
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Yogurt
  • Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Selenium

Selenium is another mineral important for maximum eye health.  A person with cataracts has a significantly lower level of selenium than someone who does not have cataracts. Therefore, maintaining proper levels of selenium are important to prevent cataracts from forming. Foods rich in selenium include, but are not limited to:

  • Fish (Tuna, Cod, Salmon, Sardines, Flounder, Halibut)
  • Mushrooms (Button mushrooms, Shiitakes, Criminis)
  • Onions
  • Poultry (Chicken and Turkey)
  •  Brazil Nuts
  • Grains (Wheat germ, oats, brown rice, barley)

Talk to Your Eye Doctor About Your Eye Diet

It’s important to talk to your optometrist and discuss what foods you are eating and what foods you should be eating to promote good eye health and clear vision.  It’s also beneficial to speak with your eye doctor about ingesting vitamins and minerals naturally by eating foods rich in eye-healthy nutrients or whether a vitamin or mineral supplement is appropriate for your particular needs.

To learn more about quality eye care and eye wear at all stages in your life, please visit http://www.shawneeoptical.com.

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