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Feb 5, 2008

Managing clouded vision

A CATARACT is a cloudy area that appears on the lens of the eye.

Cataracts are painless, start out small and usually go unnoticed for many years until they grow to a point where they begin to interfere with normal vision.
In advanced stages, symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred or "clouded" vision
  • Increased sensitivity of affected eye to light (especially at night)
  • Increased nearsightedness
  • Double vision
  • Colour change of the pupil
Cataract is normally regarded as an ageing disorder and usually occurs after 50. However, excessive usage of certain medications such as cortisone can cause cataracts at an earlier age.

Although cataracts cannot be cured at present, they can be corrected to a significant degree by surgery.

Cataracts are never operated on unless they become truly troublesome and impair day-to-day life of the patient.

For that reason, corrective surgery usually is not done until many years have passed from the time when the cataract was first diagnosed.


Early diagnosis is imperative for managing cataracts.

Adults between the ages of 40 and 64 are encouraged to make an appointment with an eye doctor or ophthalmologist once every 2 to 4 years for a thorough eye examination.

Those above 64 should see an ophthalmologist once every 1 to 2 years.

Long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight is believed to promote the formation of cataracts.

As such, many experts recommend wearing sunglasses to screen out ultraviolet rays during the day to reduce the risk of cataracts.

This is especially important when doing activities like long distance driving, where the eyes are subjected to intense glare for extended periods.

Not all types of sunglasses provide the same degree of protection, so it is important to consult an optician when choosing glasses for this purpose.

Following a diet which is high in antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids and protein may reduce the risk of getting cataracts.

Beta-carotene from carrots and bright orange fruit is a pro-vitamin A and anti-oxidant which may play a role in preventing cataracts.

Dark green vegetables, in particular spinach are rich in beneficial carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.

These nutrients are of special interest for preventing cataracts as lutein and zeaxanthin from food eventually become concentrated in the eye tissue.

Both have been shown to be 10 times more potent than vitamin E for protecting the eye from ultraviolet light.

The natural pigments or flavonoids from certain fruit may protect the eye in a similar fashion.

Studies indicate that bilberries, blue berries and cranberries contain flavonoids with the potential for treating and preventing cataracts by scavenging free-radicals and increasing eye microcirculation.

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