Risk factors for
- Age. Getting older is a
major risk factor for cataracts.
- Family history (genetics). People with a
family history of cataracts are more likely to have
cataracts. People with certain
genetic disorders may also have an increased risk for
Some chronic diseases increase the risk for cataracts.
Keeping these diseases under control may help lower your risk of developing
People with diabetes are at increased risk for cataracts. Damage to the lens of
the eye results from persistent high blood sugar (glucose) levels.1
- Glaucoma. Surgery
to treat glaucoma may raise the risk of cataracts.
Other things that increase your risk include:
- Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to
develop cataracts. Smoking may damage the lens of the eye by leading to the
formation of chemicals called
free radicals. High levels of free radicals can damage
cells, including those in the lens of the eye.
- Infection during pregnancy. If a woman has certain
infections during pregnancy, such as
chickenpox, the baby may develop a cataract before
- Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) is related to cataract development. Studies
have shown that high lifetime exposure to ultraviolet light, as in those whose
occupations result in regular exposure to sunlight, leads to an increased
chance of developing cataracts.1
- Alcohol use. Some studies show that heavy drinking
may increase the risk of cataracts.1
- Long-term use and higher doses of steroid medicines. Long-term use of high doses of steroid medicines for
conditions such as
emphysema increases a person's risk of developing
- High triglycerides. One study suggested that
elevated levels of
triglycerides, a form of fat that can accumulate in
the walls of your arteries, may increase the risk of cataracts in men.2
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