Health & Medicine

Drs. Oz and Roizen: How to prevent cataracts

When Little Red Riding Hood exclaimed, “My, Grandma, what big eyes you have,” the Big Bad Wolf replied, “The better to see you with my dear.”

“But, Grandma, I thought you had cataracts,” Red replied.

“I did,” said the BBW, “but I had LASIK surgery, and I’m all better now.”

That’s when Little Red Riding Hood realized that this wasn’t her grandmother; everybody — except for a stupid wolf — knows LASIK surgery corrects nearsightedness, not cataracts! So Red ran out the door and was safe forever after.

The moral of our story: Knowledge is power, and it can save you from losing your vision. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and by 2020 more than 30 million of you will have to deal with the cloudy, color-distorted images that cataracts cause. Luckily, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries done in the U.S., and it can replace your eye’s damaged lens with a permanent artificial one. It’s 100 percent effective more than 96 percent of the time.

But what’s even better? Cataract prevention! The Nurses’ Health Study (among others) revealed that women who ate a healthy diet, loaded with polyphenols (specifically, lutein and zeaxanthin) from dark-green vegetables, fruits and whole grains were half as likely to develop cataracts as women who didn’t. We think it applies to men, too

And while diabetes and spending time in the sun can contribute to cataract development, always wearing sunglasses and maintaining good glucose control can slow down their development. Ah! What good eyes you have!

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit