What are the risk factors for cataracts?
Cataracts and vision changes can develop for a variety of different reasons.
Some factors can make individuals more susceptible to the development of cataracts. These include:
- Older age (seniors)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Previous eye injuries (including inflammation of the eye or following surgical procedures)
- A family history of cataracts or certain genetic (inherited) disorders
- Excessive sun exposure
- Diabetes (persistent high blood sugar levels / glucose)
- Substance abuse – smoking and heavy alcohol consumption (this causes damage to the lens of the eyes due to the formation of free radicals / chemicals which gradually damage cells)
- Exposure to radiation (via X-rays or treatment procedures for cancer)
- UV light exposure (particularly UVB or ultraviolet B)
- Corrective surgery for glaucoma (can increase risk)
- Infections experienced during pregnancy (rubella / German measles, or chickenpox / varicella)
- Long-term use of steroid medications, such as for the treatment of conditions such as asthma or diuretics