Age is not always the culprit behind cataracts
Many men and women develop cataracts as they approach their golden years. While aging is the single biggest risk factor for cataracts, there are other factors that can contribute to cataracts, which can afflict people of all ages. According to the American Optometric Association, the following factors can contribute to the development of cataracts.
â¢Alcohol consumption: Studies have shown that higher alcohol consumption can increase a person's risk of developing cataracts.
â¢Diabetes mellitus: Persons with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cataracts than those who do not have diabetes.
â¢Medications: Certain medications have been associated with the development of cataracts. Corticosteroids and chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine related medications have been linked to cataracts in the past.
â¹Nutrition: Men and women who do not eat a nutritious diet may be increasing their risk of developing cataracts. The AOA admits studies examining a potential link between nutrient deficiency and cataracts are inconclusive, but some studies have suggested there is such a link between the formation of cataracts and low levels of antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
â¢Smoking: Smoking can increase a person's risk for a host of ailments, including cataracts.
â¢Ultraviolet radiation exposure: Persons who aren't adequately protected when exposed to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation have a greater risk of developing cataracts.
Some people may be born with cataracts or develop them during childhood. Such cataracts are known as congenital cataracts and may be the result of the mother having contracted an infection while pregnant. Kids born with cataracts may also have inherited them. For example, cataracts may be a side effect of Alport syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss and abnormalities in the eye.
When a person develops cataracts, surgery is the only effective treatment. But that does not necessarily mean a doctor will suggest surgery right away. Cataracts do not typically harm the eye, and delaying surgery does not mean you are less likely to regain your vision if and when you do opt for surgery. Doctors will likely recommend surgery when cataracts begin to impact quality of life, such as making reading or driving more difficult.
Cataracts are often mistakenly considered a byproduct of aging. But not every aging man or woman will develop cataracts, and not all cataracts are a byproduct of aging. Learn more at www.aoa.org.