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Cataracts

Why Drinking Wine May Help Prevent Cataracts

Some say that just like fine wine, people get better with age. While this may be true for character and personality, it often isn’t the case as it comes to one’s eyes. Age is often accompanied with all sorts of eye problems, like macular degeneration, dry eyes and cataracts.

But these eye conditions aren’t inevitable. Certain actions, habits, foods (and drinks!) may help ward off or reduce the severity of age-related eye problems—like cataracts.

But First, What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that affects millions of people in North America.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Colors that seem faded
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Double vision
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • The need to frequently update one’s corrective lens prescription

Cataracts occur naturally with age and may not always require treatment if a person’s vision remains mostly clear. Keep in mind that eye injury and certain eye diseases may also lead to cataracts.

The main treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery—it replaces the natural, cloudy lens with a clear, artificial lens.

The onset of cataracts may be prevented or at least delayed by wearing sunglasses, quitting smoking, having regular eye exams and eating nutritious foods (yes, wine included).

How Drinking Wine May Help Prevent Cataract

Wine is loaded with eye-healthy antioxidants that may protect the eyes against cataracts and other age-related conditions. Several studies have reported numerous benefits of regular and moderate wine consumption, including protection against heart disease and macular degeneration.

A recent study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, on the relationship between wine and cataracts involves data from 490,000 individuals who voluntarily disclosed details about their lifestyle and eating habits. When all other factors were considered (age, gender, smoking, weight, diabetes, ethnicity), the findings concluded that consuming about 6.5 glasses of wine per week may decrease a person’s risk of needing cataract surgery.

According to the study, wine drinkers seem to be the least likely candidates for cataract surgery when compared to non-drinkers or those who consumed other varieties of alcohol, like beer and liquor.

It’s important to note that the study does not establish a causal relationship between wine consumption and cataract surgery—only a significant association linking the two.

The head of the study, Dr. Sharon Chua, further explains that the development of cataracts may be due to gradual oxidative stress, which is a natural part of aging. The abundance of polyphenol antioxidants in wine may help counteract oxidative stress.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Participants who consumed a glass of wine 1-2 times per week had a 7% reduced need for cataract surgery than those who drank 1-3 times or less per month.
  • Participants who drank a glass of wine daily or almost daily experienced a 5-6% increased risk of cataract surgery compared to those who drank 1-4 times a week.
  • Consuming red wine weekly provided participants with a 14% reduced need for cataract surgery compared to those who abstained.
  • Weekly consumption of white wine and champagne reduced the need for cataract surgery by 10%.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Antioxidants are super beneficial for eye health and may help reduce your risk of developing a severe case of cataracts that would require surgery. This study suggests that moderate wine consumption on a weekly basis may lower your risk of cataract surgery when coupled with an antioxidant-rich diet. Furthermore, red wine seemed to have the most dramatic effect compared to white wine or other forms of alcohol.

Speak to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, just to be safe.

For further information and guidance about keeping your eyes healthy, speak with Dr. Saya Nagori about your options.

Don’t forget to have your annual eye exam to check for vision health by contacting Vision MD Eye Doctors in Glenn Dale today!

At Vision MD Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 301-779-0844 or book an appointment online to see one of our Glenn Dale eye doctors.

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FOLLOW US:

Q&A:

#1: What other foods can help protect the eyes against cataracts?

Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, C and E, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try to consume produce of every color for a variety of eye-protecting nutrients. Your optometrist can offer further guidance for your personal situation.

#2: When is cataract surgery a good option?

Cataract surgery is the only method of removing cataracts, and may be necessary when your cloudy vision stops you from carrying out daily tasks, like driving and reading. If cataracts are detected, your optometrist will closely track your vision and recommend the next steps.

5 Common Myths About Cataracts

5 Common Myths About Cataracts 640Most people have heard of cataracts, or know someone who has undergone cataract surgery. But despite it being a well-known eye condition, there’s still a lot of confusion around cataracts.

Below, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions and set the record straight.

Myth #1: Cataracts are Growths Within the Eye

FACT: Cataracts aren’t growths—rather, they’re changes in the eye’s natural lens. Cataracts occur when the protein cells in the lens start to deteriorate and clump together, resulting in cloudiness. A person with cataracts will typically have cloudy vision accompanied with a yellow or brown tint.

Myth #2: Only Older People Get Cataracts

FACT: People of all ages—even newborns—can have cataracts. While it’s accurate to say because cataracts are a natural process of aging, and affects the elderly more often than the young, certain medications and eye trauma can also lead to cataracts.

Myth#3: Lifestyle Changes Can Treat or Reverse Cataracts

FACT: Once you have a cataract, the only way to cure it is with surgery in order to remove the cataract and implant a new clear lens. Healthy lifestyle choices like eating well, getting regular exercise, and sleeping enough can all impact eye health and overall health, but they cannot reverse cataracts.

Myth #4: You Can’t Do Anything to Prevent Cataracts

FACT: While there is no surefire way of preventing cataracts, wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses outdoors and incorporating eye-healthy foods into your diet, like leafy greens and colorful vegetables, may delay their onset.

Myth#5: If You Have Cataracts, You Definitely Need Cataract Surgery

FACT: You only need to have your cataracts surgically removed if they interfere with your vision and impact your lifestyle. If you’re able to safely perform activities, such as driving at night, you don’t necessarily need surgery right away. However, be sure that your eye doctor monitors you for cataract-related vision loss.

At Vision MD Eye Doctors, we help patients navigate a wide range of eye health matters, and can help you decide whether to undergo cataract surgery or other treatments. To schedule your consultation, call Vision MD Eye Doctors today.

Vision MD Eye Doctors serves patients from College Park, Glenn Dale, Washington, D.C, Bowie, and throughout MD.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Saya Nagori

 

Q: Can cataracts return after surgery?

  • A: No. During surgery, the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one that will remain clear. If the membrane that holds the artificial lens starts to deteriorate, your vision may turn cloudy again — but this is easily treatable with a quick laser procedure to restore sharp vision.

Q: What other symptoms are associated with cataracts, aside from cloudy vision?

  • A: Cataracts are usually a painless condition, but you may experience the following symptoms associated with your cataracts: double vision, seeing halos around lights, perceiving colors as faded or yellowed, and changes in your lens prescription.


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8 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

Our eyes and vision change with age. Your eye doctor can monitor these changes — some of which are a natural part of the aging process — and identify any eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. There are a few types of cataracts, but the one usually caused by aging is known as a “nuclear cataract”. At first, it may lead to increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and clouds your vision. As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color, and left untreated, it can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens, is an extremely safe and effective treatment option.

Blepharoptosis

Blepharoptosis or ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid that may affect one or both eyes. The eyelid may droop only slightly or may droop enough to cover the pupil and block vision. It occurs when there is a weakness of the eye’s levator muscle that lifts the eyelid. This condition is usually caused by aging, eye surgery, or disease affecting the muscle or its nerve. Fortunately, blepharoptosis can be corrected with surgery.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous fluid inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness, and requires immediate treatment. If you experience sudden or worsening flashes and increased floaters, see Dr. Saya Nagori immediately to determine the cause.

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, the structure of our eyes and vision change as we get older.

Presbyopia

Why do people in their 40s and 50s have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens? The lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape and bring near objects into focus, a process is called presbyopia. Over time, presbyopia, also known as age-related farsightedness, will become more pronounced and you will eventually need reading glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision. In that case, people often get bifocals, multifocals or PALs, and they can be combined with contact lenses as well.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. The result? It becomes harder to clearly see objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and the tears they produce have less moisturizing oils. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and will recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, or other effective and lasting treatments, to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a 1-3 degree loss of peripheral vision per decade of life. In fact, one may reach a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time they reach their 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease, like glaucoma. The best way to ascertain the cause is by getting an eye exam.

Decreased color vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, faded colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

Beyond the normal changes that come with age, the risk of developing a serious eye disease, such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma, increases. Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a normal byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, we can help. To find out more and to schedule your annual eye doctor’s appointment, contact Vision MD Eye Doctors in Glenn Dale today.

3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. 

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Saya Nagori as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Vision MD Eye Doctors in Glenn Dale to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today.