Cataracts, or clouded eye lenses, are extremely common. In fact, about 90% of people develop a cataract by the age of 65. With such high odds, you will likely develop a cataract in your lifetime.
If you don't currently have a cataract, you should be aware of the certain risk factors and habits that can increase your odds of developing a cataract sooner. Here are five surprising factors that contribute to the formation of cataracts.
1. Advanced Age
By far, age is the most common risk factor for cataracts. Why? Cataracts are caused when proteins found in the eye lens clump together, obstructing the vision. But this process does not occur spontaneously. It is a gradual process that takes place over several years. In fact, most people don't experience vision problems until their cataracts are quite advanced in age themselves.
Unfortunately, there isn't a magical fountain that will make your eyes young again. While you cannot eliminate age as a risk factor, you can spot and treat cataracts, as well as other eye conditions, sooner by having your eyes examined regularly.
2. Bad Habits
Certain bad habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, will cloud your eyes even faster. If you smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day, you are three times more likely to develop cataracts than a nonsmoker. Smoking and alcohol can also lead to other lifelong vision problems, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
If you want to take great care of your eyes, stop smoking and drink only in moderation. Quitting now will lessen your risk of developing cataracts and may even delay their development. What's more, quitting smoking will help you avoid a slew of other life-threatening health problems.
3. Poor Nutrition
Your body, including your eyes, requires proper nutrition to function properly. Without adequate nutrition, the enzymes and proteins in your eyes may become damaged, leading to the formation of cataracts.
Some studies have shown that your diet plays an integral role in cataract development. Eating a diet rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants may reduce your chances of developing cataracts. Always strive to eat a balanced, healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You may also wish to consider adding the following to your diet: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, and lutein.
4. Certain Medications
Some medications can drastically increase your chances of developing cataracts as well. Corticosteroids are especially harmful to your eyes. If you take a lot of steroid medications, then you are likely at risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age than most people can expect to.
Obviously, you can’t stop taking your medication. However, you may want to get your eyes examined more frequently to check for the development of cataracts and other eye issues associated with medication usage.
5. UV Exposure
Ultraviolet light, which is emitted from the sun and tanning beds, can damage your eyes and cause cataracts to form. If you spend a lot of time out in the sun or work in the sun, you are at a greater risk of developing cataracts.
To lessen your risk of cataracts, avoid too much sun exposure. Tan less frequently and always wear protective eyewear. On sunny days, try to stay out of the direct sunlight as much as possible. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays. A wide-brimmed hat or sitting in the shade may help as well.
Cataracts develop slowly, so you may not know that you have one unless you get regular eye exams. Call The Eye Center today to make an appointment for your next exam.