Seven tips to reduce your risk of cataracts and protect your vision
“Cataracts are a gradual clouding of the natural lens of the eye,” explains Dr. Ying Lu, an Ophthalmologist at The Scarborough Hospital. “Light is unable to reach the retina, causing vision loss. Cataract surgery helps restore vision by replacing the clouded lens with a clear one.”
Cataract surgery takes only 15 minutes and patients stay in the hospital for about three hours. If there are no other eye diseases, patients can get all vision back within one or two days.
Each year, The Scarborough Hospital performs around 6,000 cataract surgeries. The hospital has one of the busiest Eye Centers of its kind in Canada, with two operating suites at the Birchmount campus dedicated exclusively for cataract surgery. The suites are equipped with the most advanced ophthalmic equipment in North America.
Although cataract surgery is very advanced, prevention is still key. Here, Dr. Lu shares her advice on how you can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts and prevent eye diseases:
- Have regular eye exams to help detect problems early. If you are between 20 and 65, OHIP will not cover the regular exam unless you have cataract or other eye diseases. But regardless, if you do not see well, ask your family doctor to refer you to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you are over 65, OHIP will cover your eye exam once a year.
- Stay on top of your health. If you are diabetic, for example, you are at a higher risk of cataract and retinal disease. It is important that you take care of your blood sugar levels. With good control of diabetes, you can reduce complications significantly. If you have diabetes, you need to have a regular eye examination once a year. OHIP will cover the cost.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Ultraviolet light may contribute to the development of cataracts. All sunglasses do the same job regardless of brand or price.
- Eat a healthy diet. Antioxidants found in colourful fruits and vegetables are good for your overall health, including your eyes.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Weight does not cause cataracts, but being overweight will increase your risk for diabetes and vascular diseases which can result in eye diseases.
- Quit smoking and increase exercise. Smoking can cause thyroid-related eye disease and macular degeneration. The eye has multiple tissues and you want to help to protect all the tissue.
- If you have clouded, blurred or dim vision or difficulty with your vision at night, consult your doctor. If it is a simple cataract, then a simple 15 minutes procedure will restore your vision. If it is not cataract, then the cause of decreasing vision needs to be diagnosed and treated.