You know, whenever I look at a sunset, I always think of my dear mother.
She suffered from blindness for the last 10 years of her life, and told me that the thing she missed most was seeing a simple sunset. You see, my mom developed cataracts subsequent to diabetes. Diabetics have a high incidence of both cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading causes of blindness today.
Vision for cataract sufferers is difficult. It's like trying to see through the bottom of a coke bottle. The vision becomes distorted, resulting in blurriness, glare, sensitivity to light, and poor night vision. Many people see halos. I know the most uncomfortable symptom for my mom was the halo she saw around lights and the intense glare she experienced whenever she was outside in the sun.
Now, none of us would be foolish enough to go out and deliberately do damage to our eyes. And we all know enough not to look directly into the sun. But most of us inadvertently do things that can be hard on our eyes.
Fortunately, there are some really simple measures that you can take to protect your eyes, including:
- Minimize your ultraviolet exposure and radiation.
- Take adequate antioxidants.
- Keep your blood sugar at a respectable level.
While performing over 3,000 angiograms of the heart in a cardiac catheterization lab, I, too, was exposed to enormous amounts of radiation. Unfortunately, my left eye has developed a cataract, which has caused some disturbance of vision. Luckily, during the many years that I was performing a lot of procedures that required fluoroscopy, I was taking antioxidants to help prevent oxidative stress.
If you are outdoors often and exposed to the sun and UV rays, be sure to always wear sunglasses, ideally a pair that absorb UV light. This is especially important when you're exposed to reflected light from snow or water.
In addition to protective eyewear, be sure to get plenty of antioxidants, particularly the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Since oxidation of the lens plays a central role in the formation of age-related cataracts, it's reasonable to assume that antioxidants can help. For example, previous research has shown that vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and selenium might modify your antioxidant defenses, protecting your eyes from oxidative damage.