Think of breaking open an egg and all you see is that bright yellow yolk. The rest of the egg is a perfectly transparent gooey mass. Now place that egg into a pan with added heat and watch as the clear portion of the egg turns an opaque white. This is an analogy of a cataract.
The front of your eye, called the cornea catches the rays of light. Those light packets of energy go right though your transparent lens and hit the back of the eye called the retina. Over time (aging), the lens does the same things as the egg white. It slowly becomes opaque unable to let light fully pass to the retina.
The cause of this is both blue light and UV-B (ultraviolet B) radiation. It has been shown that wearing sunglasses early in life, lowers the risk of cataracts. If cataracts do present, they appear at a later age with lesser severity.
Today, blue light also comes from computer monitors, cell phones, fluorescent light and tablets. These devices and types of illumination increase our exposure to this type of radiation. Airline pilots, glassblowers and furnace facilitators are all at increased risk for cataracts. Airline pilots, because they don’t have as much protection from the atmosphere to filter out UV-B rays. The other professions endure high constant heat which causes changes in the structural conformation of the lens resulting in early cataracts.
Some medications definitely increase the risk of cataracts. Long term use of steroids, some anti-psychotic drugs, pain medications (methadone, morphine and fentanyl) and some antidepressants ramp up the chances for the condition. Also smoking and chronic iodine deficiency also shows higher chances of later deleterious changes of the lens.
Lowering Risk Of Cataracts:
- Wearing sunglasses that block out UV-B in addition to blue light.
- Check with your pharmacist to see if cataracts are a risk with your medications.
- Wear a hat when out in the sun.
- Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 am-2 pm.
- Seek out a screen for your computer monitor that filters out blue light.
- Keep digital devices out of the sleeping area to reduce blue light exposure. Blue light reducing melatonin production too.
- Antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthine may offer some protection. The results of ARED2 will show any significant benefits.
- Consume daily pink/red fruits and berries.
Renovating Your Mind posted an article a few days ago that described the study ARED2 below:
Light bulbs are available that don’t give off blue light. Inquire at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Technology in conjunction with cataract removal has made this procedure a painless, easy and successful operation. On the other hand, if you can use prevention to slow down the process, better yet!