Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in the world. Fortunately cataracts can be removed surgically and vision restored. Cataracts affect our quality of life and make everyday activities frustrating or impossible. Studies have shown cataracts are also a risk for serious preventable falls and injuries in retirement age patients
The human eye has a lens like a camera. The lens helps us focus to see things clearly. As a child the lens is crystal clear, but as we age, the lens changes from clear to cloudy. This cloudiness in the lens is the cataract.
Eventually everyone gets cataracts if they live long enough. Clinically most patients start developing cataracts in their mid fifties, and statistically most patients come to need cataract surgery in their 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. Certain risk factors can cause some younger patients to develop cataracts as well.
The most important causes of cataracts are simply age and genetic predisposition. Simply put, the older we get, the more likely we are to have cataracts, and like many health conditions, some families grow their cataracts younger than others. Smokers and diabetics do show cataracts earlier, and some medications and diseases can predispose a patient to cataracts at a younger age, as can an eye trauma.