Cataracts are a growing health epidemic in the United States. According to Prevent Blindness, more than 22.3 million Americans suffer from this eye disease. A cataract clouds the eye's lens, which prevents light from getting to the eyes. The thought of developing this condition is definitely scary, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk. Here are six effective ways to prevent cataracts.

Include Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Your Diet

Certain nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, can protect your eyes from cataracts, so add them to your diet. These carotenoids absorb excess light energy, which shields your eyes from sunlight. Great sources of these nutrients include spinach, kale, peas and brussel sprouts.

Wear Sunglasses

Do you put on sunglasses every time you walk out the door? If you don't, you are doing your eyes a huge disservice. When ultraviolet rays get in your eyes, they can increase your risk of developing cataracts. Always remember to wear a pair of sunglasses with UV protection, even when it is cloudy outside.

Stop Smoking

Are you a smoker? If so, now might be the time to quit. It turns out that tobacco is not only harmful to your heart and lungs; it can also increase your risk of cataracts. This habit can actually change the cells in the lens through oxidation. If you quit smoking, you could potentially save your vision.

Manage Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes, you have a greater risk of developing cataracts. That is why it is very important to manage this health condition as best as you can. Monitor your blood sugar carefully and always listen to your doctor's instructions.

Go Easy on the Alcohol

Although you do not have to completely give up your favorite cocktails, be careful not to drink too much alcohol. Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can increase your chances of getting cataracts. 

Visit Your Eye Doctor

Even if your eyes are perfectly healthy, you should still visit your eye doctor once a year. An optometrist can give you a thorough examination and look for signs of cataracts and other diseases. If an eye disease is found early, it is a lot easier to treat.

Following these helpful tips can help lower your risk of getting cataracts. However, if you still develop the eye disease, talk to your doctor about having cataract surgery; this procedure may help restore your vision.