These common risk factors make it more likely that younger people will develop cataracts.
When you think of cataracts, you may think it’s something that only affects older people’s eyes. But the fact is that although cataracts are more likely to develop as a person ages, there are risk factors that may increase the risk of it happening earlier than you would expect.
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Since the lens becomes cloudy, it can make it more difficult to see clearly, in much the same way that it’s difficult to see through a fogged-up window. Although cataracts won’t initially affect your eyesight, they tend to affect your vision as they progress over time.
“It is an exciting time to be an Ophthalmologist because of recent advancements such as Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery and Multifocal lenses. With these revolutionary technologies we are seeing patients not only improve their vision after cataract surgery, but also achieve a mostly glasses free life with a 10 to 15 minute outpatient procedure. Most of our patients say they would have had cataract surgery much earlier if they would have known how quick and painless the surgery has become over the last 10-15 years. The majority of our patients are back at work or enjoying their leisure activities in a couple of days.”
Cataract Risk Factors
It’s not exactly known what causes cataracts. Although age is the biggest risk factor, here are other risk factors that make it more likely you’ll develop cataracts, especially at a younger age:
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Poor nutrition
- Eye injury
- Taking corticosteroids
- Radiation exposure
While you can’t control all risk factors for cataracts, adopting healthy lifestyle habits not only improves your overall health but it may make it less likely you’ll prematurely develop cataracts.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Since cataracts develop gradually, it may be difficult to know at first if you have them. The cloudiness in your vision may not be noticeable, or it may only affect a small part of the eye’s lens. Over time, vision loss and other symptoms may become more pronounced.
Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Clouded or blurry vision
- Difficulty seeing in the dark, especially when driving
- Needing more light to see clearly, especially when reading
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Noticing that colors seem more faded or dim
- Double vision in only one eye
- Frequent changes in vision prescriptions
If you have any of these symptoms, or any other issues with your eyes, it is best to see an eye doctor for a professional evaluation. He or she will be able to see if a cataract is causing your symptoms, and will also check the overall health of your eyes.
Treatment for Cataracts
The only way to treat cataracts is to have cataract surgery. During this outpatient surgery, the clouded lens of the eye is removed and is replaced with an artificial lens. Surgery is only recommended once your cataracts are severe enough to affect your vision and quality of life. Until then, you may not need treatment if your cataracts cause minimal symptoms and progress slowly.
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Date Last Reviewed: April 18, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Dietary Review: Perry Pitkow, MD