Traditionally, cataracts have been considered a normal part of getting older. With advancing age, the proteins that make up the lens can clump together, creating cloudy areas that dull or blur vision. According to the National Eye Institute, more than half of all Americans have had a cataract or had cataract surgery by the age of 80.
However, not all cataracts develop due to age-related changes inside the eye. There are other factors, including lifestyle and environmental factors, that may contribute to the early onset of cataracts.
To help shed light on the issue, Mark Mandel, MD, discusses some of the factors that may expedite the formation of cataracts.
Use of Steroids
One reason why younger people can develop cataracts is the prolonged use or high doses of corticosteroid medications like Prednisone. And unlike the other side effects of corticosteroid use (e.g., increased appetite, hair growth), cataracts do not disappear after completing steroid treatment.
Another factor that can influence the early formation of cataracts is diabetes. When diabetes is left unchecked and sugar levels rise in the lens and the aqueous humor (the fluid filling the front portion of the eye), the lens can lose its natural clarity and become opaque as a result. Eventually, this can lead to the formation of cataracts.
Physical Trauma to the Eye
Any physical trauma to the eye can lead to swelling and thickening of the eye’s lens and create a white, cloudy effect.
Smoking increases the risk of many eye problems, including cataracts. The more a person smokes, the higher their risk of developing cataracts. Evidence suggests that smoking alters the cells of the lens through oxidation.
Prolonged Exposure to Ultraviolet Sunlight
For many years, experts have suspected chronic exposure to UV light plays a role in cataract formation, although it is not exactly clear how. Research indicates that UV light can damage the proteins in the lens, leading to the development of cataracts.
How Dr. Mandel Can Help
No matter how old you are, being diagnosed with cataracts can be upsetting. Fortunately, cataracts are easily treatable. Modern cataract surgery is quick and safe.
Dr. Mandel understands what you are going through and can put your mind at ease about your treatment options. He is happy to discuss cataract surgery with you in detail and help you make decisions about your care.
To book a cataract surgery consultation at one of Dr. Mandel’s four office locations, please email him or call 877-210-2020 ext. 3 today.