CHENNAI: As usual, my phone buzzed, and the reminder to drink water popped up. I ignored it, cleaned my specs and joined the Skype meeting. But these seemingly insignificant things we avoid — like drinking water, taking breaks from prolonged screen time, or eating vegetables — can play a big part in preventing cataract.
Dr Srinivasan G Rao, senior ophthalmologist and regional head of clinical services, Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, at a press conference on Friday, brought to attention some of these overlooked daily tasks as part of Cataract Awareness Month. “In the city, the number of cataract cases has increased by approximately five times. The hospitals, even those run by the government, were either shut down or changed into Covid treatment facilities. The elderly avoided going to eye hospitals because they were more susceptible to the Covid infection, while the youngsters had increased screen time which worsened their eye condition,” he shared.
Giving a detailed idea of the condition, Dr Srinivasan said, “The term ‘cataract’ refers to clouding or transparency of the lens. Although it can affect anybody, cataract most frequently affects adults and elderly people. Those with specific hereditary diseases, diabetes, hypertension, trauma sufferers, those exposed to excessive sunlight and UV rays, smokers, obese persons, and those using steroids are most at risk for developing cataracts.”
He emphasised that the earlier the cataract operation is done, the greater the chance of recovery of eyesight. “People above 40 years should opt for eye tests every year. The recommended tests include visual acuity test, slit lamp examination, colour vision testing, contrast testing, pupil dilated evaluation and retinal evaluation,” he shared.
Dr Srinivasan asserts that increased adoption of the best practices for operating room sterility has led to a major increase in the safety of cataract surgery in Tamil Nadu, while advancements in intraocular lenses have further improved patient comfort and outcomes. In order to be aware of the issue, he also asked everyone to adjust their lifestyles.
“People should take breaks from screen time and consume an anti-inflammatory diet. For optimal eye health, eat citrus fruits, tomatoes, red and green peppers, strawberries, potatoes, kiwi, broccoli, pecans, and almonds. Wearing sunglasses to block out UV rays, giving up smoking, and limiting alcohol intake are also necessary,” he advised.