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Cataracts is a Major Cause of Blindness

According to the Fiji Optometric Association, the leading cause of blindness among people aging 40 years and above is cataracts. This eye condition is a degenerative health problem that develops through age. Crystalline in the eyes start to denature as a person age and they accumulate in the lens forming cloudy formations which leads to vision impairment. Most people who suffer from cataracts will experience a drop in their quality of life.

The Prevent Blindness America organization reported that the number of people suffering from cataracts beat that of macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes retinopathy combined. What most people do not know is that cataracts don’t just occur among people aged 40 and above. There is a condition called congenital cataracts which can occur in newborn babies. Cataracts also occur in animals, especially old dogs and cats.

The signs and symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision as if a cloudy glass is blocking the eyes; extreme light sensitivity, referred to as photophobia; and temporary second sight. People with cataracts are extremely sensitive to glare, thus they may find it difficult to drive at night.

Age is the main cause of cataracts. When a person age, the proteins in the lens called crystalline begin to denature, curl and accumulate in the lens. The same way when an egg white denatures, it will curl together. This causes vision impairment as the lens is clouded and the retina of the eyes cannot truly focus due to the blocking of the denatured proteins in the lens. In the past scientific studies, it has been established that ultraviolet light may have an effect on the denaturing of crystalline protein in the eyes, this is why people are encouraged to wear protective sun glasses when out and about to protect the eyes from being directly exposed to UV light.

Diabetes is linked to the development of cataracts, as several people with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at a younger age. Excessive usage of tranquillizers, diuretics, and steroids has also been scientifically proven to cause cataract formation.

Most eye specialists will advise a person to keep a diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A (beta carotene), Vitamin E and C, and selenium.  Most individuals should limit foods high in salt.  Apart from one’s diet, other lifestyle habits can also lead to cataract formation. This includes excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, cigarette smoking and lead exposure.

One’s diet is considered to be a major factor in cataract development.  People who consume at least 3.5 ounces of meat every day may have higher chances of developing cataracts than those who eat less amount of meat.  The less red meat, or meat in general, individuals consume the less of a chance they will develop cataracts.  Vegans are reported to have at least a 40 percent lesser chance of developing cataracts when compared to people who eat meat. 

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