Cataract Awareness Month: How Cataracts Affect Seniors

August is Cataract Awareness Month, and as one of the dominant eye problems in the senior population, we want to provide more information on this condition. 

Twenty-five million people over the age of 40 are suffering from some stage of cataracts. According to See International, by the age of 75, around 70% of people will develop cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness/loss of eyesight in the senior population.  

How Do Cataracts Affect Seniors?

Cataracts are when the lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. As a result, things seem foggy and less colorful than they truly are. When cataracts are far along, the cloudiness inside your eye can be visible from the outside too. Some symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Seeing double.
  • Seeing bright colors as faded or with a yellow tint.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Needing more light to read.
  • Eyes being extra sensitive to light.

As senior cataracts develop, they can increase the risk of a fall as well as other injuries. Vision impairment results in low functionality daily and can be very discouraging. Precautions should be taken to mitigate the risks that cataracts pose to the senior population.

Steps to Slow Down Cataracts

Over time, the lenses in our eyes begin to wear down. Since physical wear and tear on our bodies is a natural part of the aging process, preventing cataracts from happening is a challenge. However, preventing early eye deterioration or severe cataract progression is possible. 

1. Protect Your Eyes From Direct Sunlight

Sunglasses should be worn to block out the sun’s harmful UV rays in the same way we apply sunscreen to protect our skin from sun damage. Look for both sunglasses and regular glasses with anti-UV coating on their lenses. Remember, even on a cloudy day, the sun’s rays are still dangerous. Wearing sunglasses in the car is also important because windows do not do enough to block UV rays.

2. Keep Close Watch On Your Health

Certain diseases, such as diabetes, can lead to cataracts. Smoking and environmental stressors, such as unprotected eye exposure to the sun, can also play a role in cataract development. Work with your physician to manage each disease and personal health concern properly. Be sure to attend follow up medical appointments so your doctor can monitor you. Always ask questions. If you are diagnosed with a new disease, ask how the condition may affect your body in the long run.

3. Eat Foods To Help You “C” Better

Did you know there are eye-healthy foods? Vitamin C is an excellent source of antioxidants to feed your eyes and lower the risk of cataracts. Look for colorful foods. Kale, sweet potatoes, and carrots are a great source of beta carotene. Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which reduces the risk of eye infections, dry eyes, and night blindness, according to Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN.

Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up Healthline’s seven best foods for healthy eyes:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Almonds
  • Dairy
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Oranges

4. Yearly Eye Exams

Yearly eye exams are critical to gauging how your eye health is progressing. Regularly seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help identify cataracts and other eye diseases early on. If you have a family history of cataracts, they can be hereditary, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

5. Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is very common, especially for seniors. If your eye doctor identifies that you have cataracts, please do not wait and hope it gets better. The degeneration of your eyes has already begun and must be addressed quickly. Moving forward with cataract surgery earlier than later can prevent loss of vision for the long term, improve your quality of life, and reduce future accidents. 

How Can Senior Home Care Help?

Cataracts can affect many different aspects of our lives. When our vision is impaired, we can lose independence, increase the risk of an accident, and lead to decreased physical activity. Maintaining healthy eyes by regularly seeing an optometrist, eating right, and wearing sun protection are all proactive ways to prevent cataracts. Commonwise Home Care also provides home care management services to help keep these health tips on track.

A professional, trained caregiver is a valuable asset to the health and well-being of seniors. Senior home care support can aid in services such as appointment setting and transportation, medication monitoring, and companionship. Home care services provided by a professional caregiver ensure your loved one is taken care of and cared for. For more information on how Commonwise Home Care can help with senior home care services, call 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.