Development Of Cataracts - Factors That Affect It.

Development of cataracts is usually a very gradual process of normal aging but can occasionally occur rapidly.

Many people are in fact unaware that they have cataracts because the changes in their vision have been so gradual.

Even though cataracts commonly affect both eyes, it is not uncommon for cataracts in one eye to advance more rapidly.

There are several factors that may increases the risk of you developing cataracts.

Even though some factors are cannot be prevented or mitigated, but you can always improve your resiliency against the disease by strengthening your body defense mechanism.




Age and Cataracts

Old Age Cataracts

People who are of 40 years old and above have higher risk of developing cataract.

It is estimated that in U.S., about 70% of people who are 75 years and above have cataracts.

Why does it look inevitable?

As you age, through natural wear and tear, the crystalline lens fibers begin to break down and some of the protein may clump together thus forming cataract.


Gender and Cataracts

Women on average live several more years than men thus increasing their chances of getting cataract.

There are also for unknown reasons women are intrinsically higher risk to get cortical cataract than man.

One study in U.S shows that for people who are over 60 years old, 25.9% of the women had cortical cataracts but only 21.1% of the men get the disease.


Eye Surgeries and Cataracts

Most eye surgeries carry the risk of cataract development.

Any form of eye surgeries changes the natural form of the eye.

There are reports of aggressive cataracts development after LASIK surgeries.


Tobacco Cigarettes and Cataracts

Smoke and Children

People who smoke double their risks.

Chemicals and smoke of a cigarette oxidizes the proteins in the lens and alters their formation.

As a result, the proteins jumble together and increases the likelihood in development of cataracts.


Diabetes and Cataracts

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20 to 74.

High blood sugar in diabetes causes the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your ability to see.

Diabetes-induced oxidative stress accelerates and aggravates the cataracts development.

Increased glucose levels in the aqueous humor may induce glycation of lens proteins thus forming opacities.

Diabetic patients also have a higher risk in developing post cataract surgery complication such as infection and macula oedema.


Antioxidants and Cataracts

Lack of some vitamins and other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, selenium, beta-carotene, and lycopene has been shown by research to be linked to development of cataracts.

Antioxidants protect the body from oxidants, also known as free radicals.

Free radicals react with your cells, effectively "rusting" them.

If you're not getting enough antioxidants in your diet, such as vitamins C and E, you might be putting yourself at risk for cataracts.

You might want to consider taking eye vitamins for maximum protection against cataracts.




Ultraviolet Ray and Cataracts

Exposure to sunlight increases the risk of senile cataracts.

Radiation from the sun, especially ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, damages the proteins in the lens.

Even long term of low level UVB can cause pigment change in the natural lens.

A study in 1988 found that out of 838 Chesapeake Bay watermen, 52% of them had cataracts due to long term exposure to sunlight.  

They also concluded that those who wore no eye protection had three times as many cataracts as the others.  


Genes and Cataracts

Congenital cataract


Congenital cataract is a leading cause of blindness in children.

Congenital itself means ‘present at birth’.

Many congenital cataracts are hereditary and around 1000 babies are born with this disease each year.


Medications and Cataracts

Long term use of steriods is a well-known contributor to development of cataracts especially posterior subcapsular cataract.

The most common form is corticosteriods such as prednisone that is used to reduce inflammation.

Other medications that are associated with development of cataracts include chlorpromazine - a sedative commonly used in antipsychotic medicines, phenytoin - an antiseizure medication used in epilepsy.


Physical Injuries and Cataracts

Injuries to the eye increase risk of getting what is commonly called traumatic cataracts.

A blow to the eye, great heat or cold, chemical injury, exposure to radiation (usually associated with radiation therapy for cancer patients), and other injuries alters the protein structure of the natural lens and lead to cataract formation.


Related Readings

› Development of Cataracts