Smoking, alcohol and overweight: unhealthy lifestyle triggers cataracts

Healthier lifestyle to protect against cataracts
Around ten million people in Germany suffer from cataracts. Without treatment, blindness can sometimes occur. The clouding of the eye lens can be accelerated by certain risk factors such as diabetes, smoking and excessive obesity. A healthier lifestyle is an important contribution to protection against eye problems.

Particularly common eye disease
According to the "German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) - Society for Ophthalmology", the cataract with almost ten million sufferers is one of the most common eye diseases in Germany. As the disease progresses, the eyesight deteriorates, the colors and contrasts blur more and more. The risk of cataracts increases with age.

Cataract risk factors
However, it is now also known that factors such as smoking or diet have an impact on the risk of developing cataracts.

For example, British researchers reported that cataracts in women are caused by diet and high vitamin C intake can offer protection against the disease.

Refraining from smoking also lowers the risk of developing cataracts, Swedish researchers reported.

Cloudiness of the eye lens is accelerated
In addition, metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoke and excessive obesity are important risk factors that accelerate the clouding of the eye lens until surgery is finally necessary.

DOG experts therefore demand that patients with a starting cataracts should be informed about these risk factors and supported in the implementation of a healthier lifestyle.

Without treatment, blindness can sometimes occur. There is no drug therapy.

"The affected lens can be removed by surgery and replaced with an artificial lens," says the patient information portal of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). The eyesight can usually be largely restored.

The most common reason for visual impairment
The DOG estimates that ophthalmologists in Germany have to operate at least 800,000 eyes a year because of a cataract, the company reports in a statement. Lens replacement is the most common procedure in this country.

"Cataracts are a real widespread disease and the most common reason for visual impairment worldwide," said DOG President Professor Dr. med. Thomas Kohnen. “Genetic factors and environmental influences play a role in the development of the disease, as we know today,” continues Kohnen.

These relationships should be researched further. According to Kohnen, a slight clouding of the eye lens from the age of 60 is a normal sign of aging. "Only when the cloudiness increases so that it severely impairs vision must the clouded lens be replaced by an artificial lens," says the doctor.

Stop smoking, eat healthy and exercise regularly
As the communication says, studies suggest that lifestyle, such as diet and physical activity, affects how quickly the cloudiness progresses.

In an English cohort study, the metabolic disease diabetes was identified as a significant risk factor in women after the menopause. Study participants who suffered from diabetes mellitus were three times more likely to have cataract surgery than healthy subjects.

Tobacco consumption increased this risk by 26 percent, and overweight by twelve percent. "These results show once again how important it is that we as ophthalmologists educate patients about how they themselves can help prevent cataracts from progressing," explained Professor Dr. Christian Ohrloff, media spokesman for the DOG.

For diabetics, blood sugar should always be well adjusted to protect the eyes. The smoke-stop in turn protects against diseases of the lungs or the cardiovascular system. A balanced, vitamin-rich diet and regular exercise can keep your eyes healthy. (ad)

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