Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process within the eye. Although everyone will develop cataracts eventually, certain factors can increase your likelihood of developing cataracts earlier in life.
Keep reading to learn more about who is at risk for developing cataracts!
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects the eye’s natural lens. Over time, the proteins inside your natural lens begin to break down and clump together, causing the lens to become cloudy.
Cataracts can cause a variety of bothersome symptoms, including blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night. While cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, they are not contagious and cannot spread from one eye to another.
Although cataracts tend to develop slowly and may not cause significant vision changes at first, eventually, you will need cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure where your natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, known as an IOL.
What Factors Can Make Someone At Risk For Developing Cataracts?
Cataracts are typically associated with age. For this reason, everyone will develop cataracts eventually.
However, there are other reasons why someone may develop cataracts earlier in life, including:
Genetics can play a role in the development of early cataracts. Genes are involved in various processes in the body, including ensuring the lens remains transparent and protection against damage caused by aging and environmental factors.
Spending a lot of time in the sun without protecting your eyes can increase the risk of cataracts.
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to a higher likelihood of developing cataracts. The harmful substances in tobacco smoke can damage the lens of the eye.
A diet lacking important nutrients, like vitamins and antioxidants, may contribute to cataract formation. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in antioxidants can support eye health.
Obesity and Diabetes
Being overweight or having diabetes increases the risk of cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight and effectively managing diabetes can help lower the risk.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has also been associated with a higher risk of cataracts.
Medical Conditions and Medications
Medical conditions and medications can influence the development of cataracts. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of cataracts.
Additionally, long-term use of certain medications like corticosteroids, particularly in high doses, may contribute to cataract formation. Conditions that cause chronic inflammation, like uveitis, can also raise the likelihood of cataracts.
Other medical conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure, can further impact cataract development. It’s important to discuss the potential side effects of medications and the impact of medical conditions with your eye doctor and primary care physician to manage these factors and reduce the risk of cataracts.
Are you interested in learning more about cataracts or determining if you may be at risk for developing them earlier in life? Schedule an appointment at Rosenthal Eye Surgery in Long Island, NY, today!