Cataract
Cataract in simple terms is the clouding of the lens of the eye. A person with cataract would have a hazy and unclear vision. It is mostly related to aging, ie, as a person ages, the chances of cataract increase. Cataract can occur in one or both eyes.

If one has cataract, one may notice:
1) Cloudy, blurry or dim vision
2) Difficulty seeing at night
3) Sensitivity to light and glare
4) Fading or yellowing of colours

If one notices cloudy vision or other signs and symptoms of cataracts, a thorough eye examination is a must. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. Medicines do not reduce cataract.

Causes of Cataract
The exact cause of cataract is not defined. However, strong evidence points towards Oxidative Stress due to circulating free radicals. These free radicals damage enzymes and proteins in the natural lens of the eye casing its cloudiness.

The major sources of these free radicals are:
1) Smoking & Alcohol Abuse: Studies show a 72% increased incidence of Cataracts in smokers & alcoholics. Likely related to increased Serum Cadmium levels which inactivate protective Superoxide Dismutase - an antioxidant enzyme, causing oxidative damage and cloudiness of the lens.
2) Exposure to UV Radiation: There is a strong association of Ultraviolet B radiation and cataract, presumably because of oxidative stress on the lens.
3) Eating Unhealthy Foods Laden with Carbohydrates & Fats: A study published in INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE (JUNE 2015) revealed that diet high in Carbohydrates increases the cataract risk. Individuals in the top 25% for total Carbohydrate intake had more than 3 times the risk for cataracts than those in the lowest 25%.

Prevention
1) Quit Smoking & Minimise Alcohol: Experts have proposed 'QUIT SMOKING' campaigns as a major prevention of cataract /cataract progression strategy.

2) Protect your Eyes: Wear protective eyewear , specially in tropical countries like ours where UV radiation is particularly powerful. Wear sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.

3) Eat Healthy: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and green vegetables. This goes a long way in reducing your chances of cataract and keeping your eyes healthy.

4) Keep your Health under Constant Check: Keep blood sugar, BMI & blood pressure under check.

5) Control your Consumption of Caffeine: Some studies have pointed out caffeine to increase chances of cataract. Keep a hold on that bitter coffee.

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