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Who Is Most at Risk for Getting Cataracts?

December 15, 2022
Have you been diagnosed with cataracts? Or are you just worried you might develop them in the future? If so, well then, today’s post is especially for you! Read on as a Broomfield, CO optometrist talks about cataracts and the types of risk factors that can make you more susceptible to developing them.

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. The lens is normally clear and lets light pass through to help you see. Cataracts can make it difficult or impossible to see clearly. The lens is located behind the iris and pupil (the colored part of your eye) and in front of the vitreous (the clear, gel-like substance that fills most of the eye). As we age, our lenses become less flexible and more yellowed from the build-up of proteins. This process prevents light from passing through the lens properly.

Cataract Symptoms

There are several types of cataracts:
  • Senile cataracts are most common in people over age 65 and develop as part of aging processes throughout the body.
  • Traumatic cataracts occur when the eye is injured by a blow or other trauma, such as an accident or surgery. This type of cataract will heal itself within six months after the injury occurs; however, it can cause permanent damage to your vision if not treated quickly enough after injury occurs.
  • Chemical cataracts are caused by exposure to certain chemicals (such as mercury), radiation treatments for cancerous tumors near the eyes
Depending on what kind of cataract you have, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
  • Blurry vision
  • Colors seem faded or washed out
  • Discomfort while reading or watching TV
  • Double vision
  • Glare or halos around lights
  • Flashes of light as you move your eyes
  • A change in color perception (for example, everything looks green)

Cataract Risk Factors

While cataracts are a common condition that affects many people, some risk factors can make you more likely to develop them. This includes:
  • Age
  • Sun exposure
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol regularly
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, including mercury and cadmium
  • Occupational exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Ocular trauma or surgery
  • Certain cancer treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • High blood pressure
  • Traumatic injury to the eye
  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
Some other factors that may also increase your chances of developing cataracts, including:
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause
  • Some medications, such as steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs
If you have more questions or wish to schedule an eye exam, please feel free to call our Broomfield, CO optometry office anytime!

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