Causes for Cataracts (Other than Aging)
Although many people understand that a cataract is a condition in the lens of the eye that most often occurs with age, it is less well known that other risk factors can also impact the onset of cataracts. Read on to learn about some of the major risk factors that can induce cataracts earlier on in life.
In 3 out of 10000 births, children are born with cataracts. Some causes include genetic mutation, metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities (e.g. Down syndrome), or infections in the womb (e.g. rubella). In these cases, cataract surgery will need to be completed as soon as possible to ensure that the child has the best possible vision early and the visual system can develop with proper visual stimulation.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that leads to high blood sugar levels. The increase in blood sugar also causes sugar to accumulate in the fluids of the eye, allowing it to seep into the lens within the eye. This could ultimately cause cataracts to develop earlier in life compared to people without diabetes.
Smoking is associated with various systemic and eye diseases and cataracts are one example. Smoking causes a decrease in antioxidants and thus higher levels of damaging free radicals in the body. This can ultimately affect the eyes and lead to earlier onset of cataracts. Studies have shown that cessation of smoking can delay the need for cataract extraction, while higher intensity of smoking is associated with earlier cataract development.
Penetrating or blunt traumatic events to the eye could cause major damage and serious cataracts. This could include injuries from glass entering the eye, physical blows, etc. Other examples of injuries include electric shocks or radiation exposure. Ultimately, if the lens is damaged enough, cataract surgery may be completed to ensure the best vision possible.
Systemic and Topical Medications
Medication that is taken to treat ocular or systemic conditions can also cause cataracts as a side effect. Steroids are a common medication that can cause cataracts, whether they be for the purpose of treating inflammation in the eye or in the rest of the body. Continued use of steroid medication may speed up the process of cataract development and requires cataract surgery to return to good vision.
Cataracts could also result from or be sped up by certain eye diseases. Chronic uveitis (inflammation of the colored part of the eye) is the most common cause of a cataract secondary to an eye disease. It could also be secondary to glaucoma, high pressure within the eyes, or high nearsightedness. In some cases, controlling the underlying disease could help slow down the progression of cataracts.
Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for cataracts. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.
You can schedule your next appointment with us online!