01 Jun Do You See???
June is Cataracts Awareness Month. It is estimated that up to 70% of Americans aged 75 and older will have significant visual impairments as a result of cataracts. Clearly, we all need to be more aware!
This month’s newsletter will focus on some interesting facts regarding risk factors and potential preventive and treatment strategies for cataracts. I’ll also share a recipe which may be beneficial in reducing the risk of cataract formation.
Cataracts are areas of cloudy build up in the lens of the eye. Because the opacity of the cataract does not allow light to pass through the lens easily, a person with cataracts will develop cloudy vision (akin to looking through a foggy window). Reading and driving (especially at night) will become progressively more difficult. Though cataracts do not cause any pain, they are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40. Cataracts are the most common eye condition affecting vision globally, especially among poor people in developing countries. Approximately 50% of adults aged 65 or older, in the US have some degree of clouding of the lens which will typically worsen with time and eventually result in visual deficits.
There are two types of cataracts:
1) Congenital cataracts: these may be present at birth or develop in the infant shortly after birth and due to a genetic defect.
2) Age related cataracts: most common form, appearing later in life. This type of cataract will be the focus of the rest of this newsletter.
Cataracts develop very slowly and are not usually painful. They are often not noticed until the clouding progresses and vision declines significantly. Long distance vision is affected more severely initially.
Risk factors of cataracts include:
2) Family history
4) Exposure to ionizing radiation: for example airline pilots have significantly greater risk of cataracts.
5) Statin use: new research suggests that people who take cholesterol lowering medications called statins have an increased risk of developing age-related cataracts.
6) Long-term exposure to bright sunlight
7) Long-term use of corticosteroids: patients who routinely take steroids (for example, in the form of an inhaler for asthma or orally for an autoimmune or inflammatory condition)
8) Previous eye inflamation or injury
9) Exposure to lead: lifetime lead exposure may increase the risk of developing cataracts
1) Surgery is the most common treatment of cataracts
2) Eye drops are currently being studied as a non-surgical treatment of cataracts.
1) Quit smoking
2) Wear sunglasses that have broad spectrum UV protection
3) Cataracts is believed to be caused by oxidative damage to the lens. Eating foods high in particular antioxidants has been shown to reduce the risk of cataract formation. Consume foods containing healthy fats, vitamin C and vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenes contained in leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, kiwi fruit, and other fruits and vegetables in smaller amounts).
4) Regular exercise may also reduce the risk of cataract
Eye-Healthy Walnut, Kiwi, Kale Salad:
This salad features eye-healthy fats and Vitamin E in the walnuts and avocado oil, lutein and zeaxanthin and Vitamin C in the kale and kiwi fruit.
– 8 cups of organic kale (washed, de-ribbed and ripped) or baby kale
– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus for drizzling
– 2 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 ½ tsp raw honey
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– 4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
– ¼ cup chopped walnuts
Place kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Massage for about 4 minutes with your hands to wilt the kale slightly by breaking down the cell structure (this gives it a softer texture and makes it taste less bitter).
In a small bowl, mix together 4 tbsp olive oil, the apple cider vinegar, honey and salt and pepper.
Add kiwi fruit and walnuts to the bowl.
Drizzle the light dressing on top of the kale.