With over 35 years of practicing optometry, I've seen my share of individuals with cataracts. However not all cataracts develop equally. Here are some of my professional insights regarding the causes of cataracts:
The lens of the eye is a uniquely constructed tissue as it allows light to pass through it allowing us to see. The lens is made up of protein that is vulnerable to many things that can cause it to become cloudy or opaque which we call Cataracts.
Most frequently, we know of the cataracts experienced by people as they “season” a bit. The lens absorbs ultraviolet light as it allows visible light to pass through to the retina, through out life. Think of the clear lens as a glass of pure water. If you add milk a drop at a time the pure water becomes cloudy. If you add enough milk the water becomes too opaque to see through. Every birthday is potentially a drop of milk. Stack up enough birthdays and you may develop cataracts.
Age isn't the only factor with regards to cataracts. Diseases, some medications and genetic problems can cause cataracts at any age. Babies are sometimes born with Congenital Cataracts require early removal to prevent lifelong visual problems. Trauma to the eye can also cause the lens to become cloudy. For example, a BB gun injury often results in cataracts in youth especially if the eye is penetrated. Industrial accidents, auto accidents, sports injuries, and blows to the eye are common causes of Traumatic Cataracts. Disease processes such as diabetes can cause cataracts. Some medications, such as steroids prescribed for many conditions can result in Iatrogenic (medically caused) Cataracts. Finally, there are genetic conditions that cause early onset of cataracts.
The good news is that advances in cataract surgery and management can remove the cloudy lens and replace the lens which restore sight with synthetic lenses at any age.
If you have questions about cataracts for you or someone in your life, contact me for an evaluation.
Your Protector of Vision,
Dr. Doug Smith, O.D.
(aka. Doc Bison)