As you age, your chances of developing various eye diseases increase. Cataracts, which occur when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy, are one of the most common conditions affecting the vision of older adults. There are certain risk factors that can contribute to the development of cataracts, but whether or not you have any of these factors, you should make every effort to get examined regularly by your eye doctor - particularly if you are in your 60s or older.
Age and Gender
Cataracts are most common among senior citizens. Most cataracts that develop during middle age are small, and those that appear during a person’s 60s or 70s are more likely to limit vision. In addition, women have a higher risk of developing cataracts than men.
Personal and Family Medical History
If your family has a history of cataracts, you have a greater risk of developing them. Individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes have a nearly doubled risk of developing cataracts, especially in the nuclear part of the lens. This type of cataract is more likely to severely limit vision. Autoimmune conditions and other diseases that require steroid use also raise a person’s likelihood of developing cataracts. In addition, obesity will sometimes play a factor in the formation of cataracts.
Smoking and Alcohol Use
Pack-a-day smokers and chronic heavy drinkers are at nearly double the usual risk for cataracts. They are also at higher risk for nuclear cataracts.
Vision Problems and Environmental Factors
Individuals with other eye problems, such as nearsightedness or eye injury, are at higher risk for developing cataracts. Environmental factors, such as overexposure to sunlight, especially from a young age, and exposure to ionizing radiation or x-rays, can also increase one’s risk for cataracts.
If you have one or more of these risk factors, it is very important to stay in touch with your eye care professional. Eye Care Associates of St. Louis has been providing comprehensive ophthalmological care for over 100 years. Our eye specialists can treat a full range of eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and refractive errors. Call us today at (314) 863-4200 to schedule an exam.