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Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness across the world and affects more than 22 million Americans. August is Cataract Awareness Month, and NurseWise, a nurse triage and health education provider, has compiled information about the ways you can help protect yourself from getting cataracts.

1. Get a baseline exam if you’re over 40. It is recommended that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline screening exam at age 40. This is the time when early signs of disease and vision changes may start to occur. People with cataracts usually do not experience symptoms like pain or discomfort in the eye until the cataract is more advanced.

2. Know your risk factors. In addition to having a family history of cataracts or having diabetes, other factors can increase your risk of developing a cataract. People who smoke at least 20 cigarettes per day have twice the risk of developing cataracts as compared to nonsmokers. Tobacco smoke contributes to the development of cataracts.

3. Reduce your risks. Studies have also shown that ultraviolet radiation may cause the protein in your eye lens to breakdown, resulting in cataracts. Wearing glasses with UV protection while outside will protect your eyes from excessive amounts of the rays. Remember to wear your protection in all seasons, though, as the sun is prevalent year round. Not all sunglasses are efficient in filtering out UV rays. When purchasing sunglasses, make sure that they are 100 percent UV-absorbent.

4. Be informed. Impaired vision can be restored by surgically removing the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one. While 50 percent of those over age 80 have cataract, studies have shown that the risk for cataract development can be reduced by taking preventative measures in one’s younger years. While it is possible to reduce your risk of developing cataract, unfortunately it is not 100 percent preventable. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of cataracts including family history, medications, and age.

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