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What Are Common Cataract Risk Factors?

Older Couple Enjoying a Walk

Cataracts are a common eye condition. They tend to form as we grow older, but can affect some people earlier than others.

Some people are even born with cataracts! Scientists don’t know what causes cataracts, but they know the key risk factors. Here are the main ones:

Age

Cataracts usually affect older people. But you don’t have to be in your seventies. By being over the age of 40, your risk of developing cataracts increases.

Cataracts don’t only affect the elderly unless you consider 40 “elderly”! And they can develop even younger if you have certain conditions.

Smoking

Smoking increases your risk of cataracts. It isn’t completely clear why, but the prevalent theory is that it’s due to a chemical reaction.

This chemical reaction affects the cells in the lens and makes them opaque. This makes the lens less transparent and hard to see through.

It could also be that the heavy metal deposits in the eye cause this opacification. There’s documented evidence that smoking causes heavy metal buildup in the eye. Whatever the cause, though, one thing is clear— smoking is bad for your eyesight!

Excessive Drinking

You may think that drinking a lot affects your liver, but it can also affect your eyes. Studies have shown that people who drink to excess have an increased risk of cataracts.

Drinking in moderation isn’t considered a risk. As long as you’re drinking in a safe manner, having a glass of wine with dinner is fine.

Diabetes

Diabetes is associated with all kinds of eye problems, including cataracts. Excess glucose in the eye gets converted into sorbitol.

Sorbitol can collect in the lens and alter cells, making the lens more opaque. If you have diabetes, the best way to lower your risk for cataracts is to keep your glucose levels stable.

Obesity

Obesity is often associated with cataracts. Eating a healthy, balanced, and low-fat diet reduces the risk of cataracts.

Diet has a very real effect on cataract formation. To lower your risk for cataracts, focus on a healthy diet and regular exercise.

UV Damage

Damage from ultraviolet rays can cause many eye problems. UV damage is another factor in cataract development. Sunlight can be as harmful to your eyes as it is to your skin!

So don’t only wear sunblock— be sure to wear sunglasses, too. Your sunglasses need to have protection against all UV rays. Make sure you’re buying polarized lenses to keep your eyes as safe as possible!

Genetics

Some people are more predisposed to develop cataracts. If your parents developed cataracts early, you’re more likely to develop them earlier as well.

Because it’s part of your genetics, this isn’t something you can change. The best thing you can do is lead a healthy lifestyle and make good choices. Avoiding other risk factors can help lower your risk!

Have cataracts? Considering treatment? Contact Montgomery Eye Center in Naples, Florida to schedule a cataract screening today!

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