Celebrate Cataract Awareness Month by Looking After Your Eyes

The month of June is dedicated to raising awareness for an eye condition that affects approximately 22 million Americans ages 40 and older: cataracts. Life in a Medical Center, a blog for patients, employees and friends of the University of Maryland Medical Center, recently covered measures that you can take to protect your eyes. Here are some highlights:

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses. Because long-term exposure to UVA and especially UVB radiation is known to damage the lens, Bennie Jeng, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, advises the use of protective eyewear to minimize risk. Although radiation from the sun is present year-round, it’s particularly important to cover up in the summer months, when the days are longer and you are likely spending more time outdoors. Keep in mind, though, that not all sunglasses are made equal. When you’re purchasing a pair, be sure to check the label – they should block 99 percent of UVB rays and 95 percent of UVA rays.
  • Avoid tobacco. Research shows that pack-a-day smokers are at twice the risk for developing cataracts. If you smoke, it’s not too late to reduce your chances and improve your overall health by quitting.
  • Practice good nutrition. Studies on the impact of nutrition on cataract development remain inconclusive. Some suggest that xanthophylls compounds – pigments contained in leafy, dark green vegetables – help to promote eye health. In any case, these foods, as well as foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and E, are often good for you and taste good, too.

The National Eye Institute recommends that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years, whether or not you have cataract symptoms. If you don’t already have an eye doctor, you can click here to meet our physicians. Board-certified ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision scientists from University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI) provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of general and subspecialty eye disorders through a multidisciplinary approach. They offer innovative, advanced-treatment options for adults and children suffering from a wide range of eye disorders, and general eye care for those requiring corrective lenses. You can choose from five convenient locations, including the new state-of-the-art center at Waterloo Crossing in Columbia, Maryland.

Although Cataract Awareness Month serves as a reminder to visit your eye doctor, it’s important not to lose sight of your good habits, and to look after your eyes all year long.