What Are The Causes of Cataracts?
The most common cause of vision loss for people over the age of 40 is cataracts. Cataracts are also the main cause of blindness worldwide. That means cataracts can be a pretty big deal. Here are the three different types of cataracts that can form:
- Subcapsular cataract: start at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those who take high doses of steroid medications have a higher risk of developing this type of cataract.
- Nuclear cataract: start deep in the central area (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts are the ones most often associated with aging.
- Cortical cataract: look like a spoke structure with white, wedge-like pieces that begin at the outside of the lens and move toward the center. This type of cataract forms in the lens cortex, the part of the lens around the central nucleus.
So, What Causes Cataracts?
Understanding how eyes work on a basic level is helpful in understanding why cataracts form and then how they are caused. The lens inside your eye is similar to a camera lens, by focusing light onto the retina. It also adjusts the eye’s focus, that’s what allows you to see things clearly far away or up close.
The lens of your eye is made from water and protein. The way the protein is arranged is extremely precise and is helpful in keeping the lens clear so the light can pass through it easily.
However, as we get older, some of those proteins can get clumped together making a cloud in the lens. This cloud is the cataract. Over time, the cataract can grow larger and larger, making it difficult to see.
It’s hard to say why the lens of your eye changes as we get older, but researchers have found some factors that may be causes of cataracts.
Besides aging, cataract risk factors include:
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
- Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Significant alcohol consumption
- High myopia
- Family history
If you want to learn more about cataracts, schedule an appointment with us today. We’d love to discuss any questions you might have