How to Minimize Cataract Risk–and What Doesn’t Work

Senior Cataract Research

Practices that Do and Don’t Reduce Cataract Problems

So many seniors suffer from cataracts that doctors spend a lot of time researching the best ways to prevent and correct them. As with so many other health topics, we are still in the experimental stages on a number of different fronts, trying different approaches and seeing how successful they are. There are two new pieces of information for medical professionals and seniors who suffer from cataracts—they fall neatly into the “good news and bad news” categories. As you will see, it turns out that the most effective cataract prevention program we know of is also a very simple one: protect your eyes with sunglasses whenever you can.

The Good News: Smaller Incisions Help Healing

It may seem fairly obvious to the average person, but a new study concludes that a smaller incision during cataract surgery makes it more likely that the patient will recover more fully, suffering fewer lasting effects and regaining clearer vision. As a particularly delicate organ, the eye’s healing process is very complex. An incision with a simple shape, whether made using a laser or more traditional means, is more likely to heal fully without creating an astigmatism. The potential for an astigmatism to appear after cataract surgery is one of the biggest risks that seniors face when opting for the procedure.

The Bad News: Vitamin Supplements Don’t Combat Cataracts

Medical experts were optimistic when animal testing pointed them toward supplemental nutrients—particularly vitamin E and selenium—as potentially effective for reducing cataract risk in seniors. When clinical research with human subjects concluded, however, the theory fell flat. The researchers found no measurable improvement in cataract development in a group of seniors who took the vitamin supplements over a group that did not.

Conclusion: Fighting Cataracts

Unfortunately, doctors report that at this point, there is no known medical method to prevent or slow the development of cataracts. There is one solid recommendation, though: avoid exposure to UV rays from the sun whenever possible. When seniors spend time outdoors, sunglasses and a shade hat should be standard equipment just like shoes. It’s a simple action to take, but it’s the best way we know of to keep cataracts from forming.

Taking walks and getting out of the house on a regular basis carry lots of benefits for seniors, and the threat of cataract development should not scare a senior into staying indoors with the curtains drawn! A lack of sunlight has its own detrimental effect on vision, as the eyes have to strain to focus in dim lighting. An in-home caregiver can help an elderly client get plenty of fresh air and vitamin D while making sure his or her eyes are protected.

Photo by phuket.photographer

Avatar

About Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to HealthLine.com and to FamilyAffaires.com as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.