Causes of cataracts

Cataracts can form when ageing proteins in the eye affect how well the lens transmits light. When these proteins break down, they can turn yellow.

Cataracts are generally associated with age, but it is possible for a cataract to form in younger people. There are even cases of babies born with cataracts, known as congenital cataracts. In younger people, they can result from conditions such as diabetes, certain medications, and other eye problems.

As well as ageing, there are more possible causes of cataracts:

  • Eye injuries or related surgery
  • Excessive exposure to UV sources, including excessive sunlight
  • Exposure to dangerous substances or radiation
  • Certain diseases, lifestyle choices and medications such as:
  • Chronic diseases (including diabetes, obesity, etc.)
  • Steroids
  • Smoking
  • Stress and hypertension
  • Genetic inheritance
  • High myopia

Types of cataracts

Here are the different types of cataracts.

  • Age-related (nuclear cataract or nuclear sclerotic cataract): Age-related cataracts are likely to appear and grow as we age. With nuclear cataracts you may observe improvement in your vision. However this is usually temporary and can worsen if the cataract progresses.
  • Congenital cataract: Cataracts can develop as a result of the inadequate development of babies in the womb.
  • Subcapsular cataract (secondary): Subcapsular cataracts can develop due to other medical conditions. Eyes that come into contact with toxic substances, UV rays, radiation and drugs used to treat chronic diseases (such as diabetes) are vulnerable to subcapsular cataracts.
  • Traumatic: A traumatic cataract is the result of an injury to the eye. It is always recommended to use specially designed eyewear when in contact with UV rays, gadgets and high-power tools that can cause injury to the eyes.
  • Bilateral cataract: When you have cataracts in both eyes.
  • Other kinds of cataract include cortical cataract and diabetic cataract.

Have regular eye tests

We recommend you have an eye test at least every two years. Your optician may recommend this is more frequent depending on whether you have any eye conditions.

During an eye test, you optician will be able to see if you have cataracts. The earlier it is detected, the more likely you’ll be able to treat it, or at least stop it from getting worse. 


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