Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss. Cataracts are a buildup of proteins in the clear lens that covers the eye. As proteins buildup, they cause the lens to become clouded over. Cataracts are a progressive condition. Without treatment, the cloudy formations will eventually disrupt vision, or even lead to complete vision loss.
Many of Dr. Raul Peña’s Harlingen, TX, patients question what leads to the formation of cataracts. Here we go over some of the most common cataract causes.
The majority of cataracts are age-related. As the body ages, there are natural changes that occur within the eye, and the proteins within the eye begin to breakdown. Most of these changes begin around the age of 40, though that can vary slightly from one person to another. The older a person gets, the greater their risk of cataracts. By the time a person reaches the age of 60, many will begin to have some degree of cloudiness in the lens of their eye.
Like many other medical conditions, there appears to be a genetic link with cataracts. If other family members have dealt with cataracts, particularly a parent or sibling, your risk of cataracts is greater. Individuals with a family history of cataracts should report it to Dr. Peña. People with an increased risk of cataracts may benefit from more frequent eye exams.
There are certain illnesses and medical conditions that can increase the risk of cataracts for our Harlingen patients. The disease that carries the greatest risk of cataracts is diabetes. If diabetes is not controlled properly, increased blood sugar levels can eventually cause the lens to become clouded over. With proper monitoring, diabetics should be able to control blood sugar levels and decrease their risk of cataracts.
Eye Injuries or Eye Surgeries
If a person suffers an eye injury or undergoes eye surgery, they are more likely to develop cataracts. Injuries and surgery can cause the structure of the eye to change, which can lead to the breakdown of proteins and the eventual formation of cataracts. After suffering an eye injury or undergoing eye surgery, patients need to be careful to look for early signs of cataracts.
UV rays are widely known to damage the skin, but many do not realize that they can also damage the eyes. If the eyes are continually exposed to the sun, they are more prone to cataracts. To minimize the risk of cataracts, our Harlingen patients should wear sunglasses with UV protection whenever they are outdoors.
Use of Certain Medications
There are some medications that can cause the early formation of cataracts. Steroids are especially known to increase the risk of cataracts. The longer that a person uses a steroid medication, the more likely they are to develop cataracts. Patients who need to use a steroid medication long-term should be sure to schedule frequent eye exams.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are concerned about the health of your eyes, or are simply due for a routine eye exam, Dr. Raul Peña is here to help. To learn more about our comprehensive eye care services, schedule an appointment with Dr. Peña at your earliest convenience by calling (956) 264-1200 or (956) 661-8733.