New Delhi: Changes in food habits including alcohol consumption and smoking are among the leading causes of rising blindness, opthalmologists say.
In a statement on the eve of World Sight Day, doctors said that with age, certain food habits and proper care of eyes has to be maintained, which otherwise cause weakening of eyesight, and even lead to blindness.
"Many eye diseases have no early warning signs or symptoms, but a dilated exam can detect eye diseases in their early stages before vision loss occurs. One should avoid smoking as this makes the smoker more likely to get cataract, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration," said Mahipal S. Sachdev, chairman and medical director of Centre for Sight.
According to recent researches, India has eight million people suffering from eye problems.
He said macular degeneration causes "blind spots" and often severely impairs central vision.
People who smoke double their chance of forming cataract, and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.
Noting that four out of five patients suffering from eye problems were curable, Y.K Gupta of Safdarjung Hospital said lack of awareness on eye problems was the key issue.
"Elderly people tend to neglect their body's warning signals and of all the population suffering from vision impairment, 60 percent include people above 50 years of age," he said.
"With growing age, one should ensure that they should take proper care of their food habits. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataract.
"Regularly eating foods like green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, beans, eggs can help to maintain a good eye health," Gupta said.
The World Heath Organisation says vision loss is a major problem, with South East Asia having 140 million visually impaired people.
The apex world health institution says more than 50 percent of all blindness in India is caused by cataract which accounts for 33 percent of visual impairment.
"Uncorrected refractive errors are responsible for 43 percent of the visual impairment in the region. About 65 percent of the visually impaired people are 50 years old and above," said a statement from WHO.