What really causes cataracts? It’s a question well worth asking and answering. Cataracts, one of the scariest eye diseases, is also one of the most common. The leading cause of blindness, it affects more than 22 million people in America alone.
Even so, there are still misconceptions about what causes cataracts, the types of cataracts, and what can be done to prevent them. Get the facts on cataracts here and understand how cataracts can be prevented. When you know the real answers to, “How do you get cataracts?” you can help yourself and others take control of their vision and eye health.
How Do Cataracts Form?
The front of your eye is made of four important parts: the iris, the cornea, the pupil, and the lens. While each part is vital to your overall vision, the lens plays a very important role. Lenses are made up of water and proteins arranged so that light can pass through the retina properly and focus near the back of your eye. To put it more simply, your lenses make it possible for you to see. Your lenses can also be what causes cataracts.
As we get older, the proteins in our eyes begin to shift, creating a cloud around the lens known as a cataract. The cataract then reduces the amount of light that can reach your retinas, making it harder to see.
How Else Do You Get Cataracts? Pure Age
Age is among the most common causes of cataracts. The important proteins in your lenses typically begin to break down when we reach the age of 40. However, the result of this protein breakdown is different for everyone, and the effects aren’t always immediate.
Many people reach the age of 60 before any clouding occurs. Unfortunately, your risk for cataracts continues to rise as you age: over 50% of people age 80 and older develop cataracts. So, how do you get cataracts? You may be at a higher risk for developing cataracts without a regular check-up to monitor eye and vision health.
What Lifestyle Choices Cause Cataracts?
Just because age is the primary cause of cataracts doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures against their formation. Making healthier lifestyle choices such as avoiding tobacco and limiting your alcohol intake can significantly reduce your chances of developing cataracts early on.
Research has shown that smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts as non-smokers (and three times as likely if you’re a heavy smoker). What causes cataracts from smoking is oxidation in your eyes lenses, altering the cells of your eyes and contributing to the formation of cataracts.
Heavy drinking can also increase your risk of developing cataracts. Recent studies have shown that people who have more than two drinks per day are at much greater risk of needing cataract surgery later in life. Moderate consumption, however, does not appear to have any effect on cataract development.
Sunlight and Cataracts
The sun’s exposure to your eyes is another common answer to, “What causes cataracts?” According to research, age-related oxidative stress—the process by which your lenses become cloudy—can be sped up and worsened by excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to stare directly at the sun for oxidative stress to occur; simply being in the sun without proper eyewear can cause damage and increase your risk of developing cataracts. To reduce your risk, doctors recommend wearing sunglasses with strong UV protection.
Quality, Affordable Cataract Surgery at Eye Center of Texas
If you’re over the age of 40, your risk of developing cataracts increases with every year. While you should understand how you get cataracts and how to avoid cataracts, prevention is even more important. Don’t let cataracts rob you of your sight!
For the answers and treatments you need, visit the experienced doctors at Eye Center of Texas, located right here in Houston. Our team of cataract and LASIK surgeons have conducted over 70,000 successful procedures, including Houston cataract surgery. We understand your concerns about comfort, the cost of cataract surgery, post-op recovery and more.
Eye Center of Texas offers a number of cost-effective, high-quality, blade-free cataract surgery options, including the popular LenSx™ laser cataract surgery. Don’t allow your vision to fade any longer—schedule your consultation today!