What Causes Cataracts?

  • Posted on: Apr 15 2020
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Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss for people over the age of 40. It is also the main cause of blindness throughout the world. There are different types of cataracts that can form including:

  • Subcapsular cataract: form at the back of the lens. If you have diabetes or take high doses of steroid medications, you have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
  • Nuclear cataract: forms deep in the center (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts are usually the ones associated with aging.
  • Cortical cataract: characterized by white, wedge-like pieces that start in the outside of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like way. This type of cataract forms in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.

So, What Can Cause Cataracts?

To know what causes cataracts, you need to understand how eyes work to see. The lens inside your eye is very similar to a camera lens, by focusing light onto the retina. It also adjusts the eye’s focus, that’s what allows you to see things clearly far away or up close.

Water and protein make up the lens of the eye. The protein is arranged in a precise way that helps to keep the lens clear so light can pass through it.

Unfortunately though, as we age, some of those proteins may clump together creating a cloud in the lens. This is the cataract and over time it can grow even larger and cloud up more, making it harder and harder to see.

No one is really certain why the eye’s lens changes as we age but researchers have determined some factors that may cause cataracts.

Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors include:

  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Significant alcohol consumption
  • High myopia
  • Family history

If you have questions about cataracts, schedule an appointment with us today. We’d love to discuss this with you.

Posted in: Cataracts


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