Cataract Risk Factors and Causes

By Francis Clark M.D. on February 12, 2019

Portrait of middle-aged man in plaid shirt sitting outsideCataracts are extremely common in aging adults. This condition is characterized by cloudy or blurry vision. Fortunately, cataracts can be successfully treated with corrective eyewear or cataract surgery.

Here, our Philadelphia, PA ophthalmology team discusses cataract risk factors as well as common causes and treatment options.

What Causes Cataracts?

The lens of the eye is primarily made of water and protein. In healthy children and adults, the protein composition allows light to pass through the lens, keeping it clear. However, as we age, the protein may cluster or clump together. As a result, cloudiness may develop. This is referred to as a cataract, and over time, it can progress and grow larger.

Cataract Risk Factors

It is possible that cataracts are just a result of normal wear and tear. However, most experts agree that there are some risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the condition:

  • Age: Individuals over the age of 60 are more likely to develop cataracts.
  • Genetics: A family history of certain medical conditions can increase your risk for cataracts.
  • Diabetes: One of the most common risk factors of cataracts, and a host of other vision issues, is diabetes. In fact, diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in men and women between the ages of 20 and 74.
  • Trauma: Those who sustain injury or trauma to the eye are at a higher risk for cataracts. This is because blunt force trauma can disrupt the ocular lens fibers.

Additionally, cataracts have also been linked to:

  • Excessive UV exposure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Use of steroid medications
  • A history of eye surgery

Cataract Prevention

While it is impossible to prevent the development of cataracts, there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk for the condition. For example:

  • If you use tobacco products, kick the habit.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses whenever you are outside to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, packed full of antioxidants and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Attend routine examinations with your eye care professional, especially if you are over the age of 60.

Treatment for Cataracts

At Ophthalmology Physicians and Surgeons, PC, we strive to provide the most conservative treatments available. If you have cataracts, the first line of defense is often corrective eyewear.

A series of tests can be performed at our office to determine the severity and complexity of the condition. Assessments may include visual acuity tests, slit-lamp exams, and retinal evaluations. By performing a complete examination, your doctor can determine if eyeglasses or contacts can improve your vision.

In some cases, cataracts are too severe to be treated with corrective eyewear. In these cases, surgery will be recommended. This generally becomes an option once your cloudy vision begins to affect your quality of life. If you have difficulty driving at night or reading due to your cataracts, it may be time to consider surgical intervention.

Contact Our Practice

If you suspect your blurry vision is due to cataracts, schedule a visit at our practice. Contact us online or give us a call at one of our six locations.

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