Cataracts are a fact of life: Most people will develop a cataract over the course of their lifetime. In fact, over 22 million Americans are estimated to have a cataract.
What increases your risk of developing a cataract?
First and foremost, as you age your chances of developing a cataract increase. Age is the number one risk factor for developing a cataract. Some will begin to develop small cataracts as early as their 40-50’s. By 80, more than half of the American population will either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
It comes as no surprise: smoking is bad for your eye health. Smoking has been associated with an increased risk for cataracts, as well as a number of other issues like macular degeneration and uveitis. A lifetime of smoking, especially heavy smoking, can double your risk of developing cataracts.
Gender & Ethnicity
Women are at a higher risk of developing cataracts than men. Some research has shown that Estrogen may have a role in cataract development and may be the reason for an increased cataract prevalence in women.
In addition, certain ethnicities and ancestries have an increased risk of developing cataracts. Compared to Caucasian-Americans, African and Latino Americans have an increased risk of cataracts.
A traumatic cataract can form after a patient suffers blunt force trauma to their eye. This type of cataract may also form after a penetrative eye injury. These types of cataracts can occur immediately after or years after the eye injury.
Too Much Time in the Sun
Some studies show that ultraviolet (UV) light can increase your risk of cataract development. The increased risk depends on the amount of overexposure over a long period of time. There is a potential for an increased risk if you have been exposed to too much UV cumulatively, but not from a single instance of overexposure.
To combat this increased risk you can protect your eyes with sunglasses which have 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Certain Medical Issues
Certain medical issues and diseases like Diabetes can increase your risk of cataracts. Diabetics with unchecked glucose levels can result in an increased amount of sugar levels in the eye’s aqueous humor and lens. Your eye’s lens contains an enzyme that transforms glucose into a substance called sorbitol. This substance collects in the lens and can affect proteins which lead to cataracts.
Should You Be Worried About Cataracts?
We recommend that anyone over the age of 40 should have a comprehensive eye examination by their doctor at least once every two years. If you believe these risk factors pertain to you and are over the age of 40, you should consult with your doctor about how frequently you should have your eyes examined.
Dr. Shobha Tandon and her staff are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about cataracts and cataract surgery. Please call or contact one of our locations online today to learn more.
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