Aging is the biggest risk factor for cataracts. In fact, cataracts are considered a natural part of the aging process. As we age, the lens inside the eye, which is made mostly of water and protein, becomes cloudy and hardens. The protein part of the lens may clump together, preventing light from coming through the lens causing cloudy vision. Aging changes vary from person to person. Some people may develop cataracts as early as 40, while others are much older. By the age of 80, most Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery, according to the National Eye Institute.
You may be at risk for developing cataracts at an earlier age if you:
- have diabetes
- have a family history of cataracts
- extensive exposure to sunlight
- are obese
- have high blood pressure
- have had a previous eye injury or surgery
- have used steroid medications long term
Cataracts cannot be prevented. However research shows that you may be able to slow down the progression of a cataract, by taking certain measures such as wearing sunglasses and a hat or visor to protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Quitting smoking may also help.
Symptoms & Diagnosis