Cataracts occur when the proteins in the lens of a person’s eye builds up and causes a cloudy film over the lens, making vision difficult at first and can then lead to blindness. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the United States. While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent your aging parent from getting a cataract, knowing the risk factors, and then taking preventative care could reduce her risk of developing a cataract as she ages.
- Getting Older. While you can stop this risk factor, take it into consideration with preventative care. Make sure your parent is receiving annual eye exams so that if a cataract does begin to form, you’ll know as soon as possible. If your parent needs someone to drive her to her eye appointment, your senior care provider might be able to help.
- Diabetes. Staying healthy and maintaining a healthy weight will help your parent stay away from developing this disease that increases her risk of having cataracts.
- Alcohol use. Have your parent set a goal of no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
- Excessive exposure to sunlight. Protecting her eyes with sunglasses and a hat are important steps to reducing this risk.
- Genetics or other family members that have had cataracts.
- High blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure regulated will help reduce her cataract risk.
- Smoking. Smoking creates free radicals that can damage the eyes.
- Inadequate vitamin intake. See below for important nutrients that will improve your parent’s eye health.
- Excessive exposure to ionizing radiation, such as that used in X-rays and cancer radiation therapy.
- Previous eye surgery, eye injury or inflammation.
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone) can lead to an excessive buildup of proteins in the eyes.
- Wear sunglasses. Whether the sun is brightly shining or if it’s cloudy out, your parent should wear sunglasses to protect her eyes against the damaging UV light the sun produces. As you go shopping for sunglasses, look for the ones that block out at least 99% of UVA and UVB light.
- Eat the right stuff. Eating foods rich in vitamins C and E may help prevent cataracts and could even slow the growth of any cataracts that are already present. For vitamin C, have your parent pick up items like cantaloupes, tomatoes, and citrus fruits the next time she is shopping with her senior care provider. Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and spinach.
- Stop smoking and drinking. Since both of these activities can increase the risk of a cataract, helping your parent walk away from both can reduce her risk of developing a cataract because of these risk factors.
- Keep blood sugar regulated. If your parent has diabetes, she already knows she needs to keep her blood sugars regulated. In the prevention of cataracts, it’s important because long-term excessive blood sugar causes the lens of the eye to swell and clouds the vision.
- Make those regular eye doctor visits. Once your parent is over the age of 65, she should be having annual eye exams. Early detection is always the best way to reduce the negative effects of having a cataract.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Ontario, CA please contact the caring staff at Motherly Comfort Home Care, LLC today at (909) 610-3222.