Cataracts are a common vision problem that can interfere with a person's ability to do daily activities, like drive, read, and use a computer. At Peña Eye Institute, Dr. Raul Peña offers services to diagnose and treat cataracts, helping patients protect their eyesight and enjoy clearer vision.
Although treatment is available for cataracts, taking steps to reduce your risk of developing cataracts is important to eye health. This is why Dr. Peña would like to take this time to discuss cataract risk factors.
Cataracts Have Several Common Risk Factors
Cataracts are an eye condition that causes the normally clear lenses of the eyes to become cloudy. During the early stage of cataracts, vision may only be minimally impacted.
As cataracts progress, they can considerably interfere with vision. Many describe severe cataracts as looking through a fog or a frosted window.
Unfortunately, cataracts are a common vision problem. While it's not always possible to stop cataracts from developing, reducing risk factors whenever possible can help. Here are several common risk factors for cataracts we'd like our patients to be aware of so they know when to seek treatment.
Aging is one of the leading causes of cataracts because of the changes that occur to the proteins within the lens of the eyes as the body ages. Typically, after the age of 40, proteins within the lens begin to buildup, over time creating a cataract.
Protein buildup can take many years to reach a point where it interferes with vision. Generally, age-related cataracts begin to cause vision problems after 60.
People who smoke are more likely to develop cataracts than those who don't smoke. Smoking combined with diabetes and age may pose even greater risk to vision.
The best way for smokers to protect their vision from cataracts is to stop smoking as early as possible, preferably before cataracts develop.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels, the amount of sugar in the blood, is higher than normal. There are several eye diseases that can develop as a result of diabetes. Cataracts happen to be one of the most common.
The risk of developing cataracts is even greater if diabetes is not well controlled. Maintaining healthy blood glucose levels through diet, exercise, and medication if indicated is important for diabetics and reducing the risk of cataracts.
High Blood Pressure
Persistent high blood pressure poses many risks to eye health, including an increased risk of cataracts.
High blood pressure can be caused by factors such as obesity, a lack of exercise, smoking, age, stress, or genetics. Making lifestyle changes can be helpful in lowering blood pressure and preventing cataracts.
Long Term Use of Corticosteroid Medications
Corticosteroid medications are used to reduce inflammation and to treat conditions like arthritis, severe allergies, and asthma.
Unfortunately, using corticosteroid medications over an extended period of time can increase the risk of a specific type of cataract called a posterior subcapsular cataract.
Excessive exposure to the sun, specifically UV light, may increase the risk of cataracts. People who work outside for years or who spend a lot of time outdoors and don't take steps to protect their eyes are most at risk of developing cataracts from sun exposure.
Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection and a hat to further block the sun's rays can help protect the eyes.
Schedule a Consultation
Regular eye exams are important to protecting vision and catching eye conditions, like cataracts, as early as possible. If you would like to schedule an eye exam, please call the Peña Eye Institute at (956) 661-8733.