Are You at Risk for Cataracts?
By Gordon Wong, OD on August 16, 2016
At Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry, we offer comprehensive eye exams that can help you maintain excellent eye health for a lifetime through the identification of ocular diseases and conditions such as cataracts in their earliest stages. While cataracts cannot be cured, their timely diagnosis can lead to prompt treatment, if necessary, and careful monitoring if not.
If you are at heightened risk for cataracts, it is especially important that you have your eyes screened regularly. Although age is certainly the most common and well-known risk factor for cataracts, it is far from the only one. This is the reason our eye care professionals detail cataract risk factors during consultations at our San Diego, CA practice.
We invite you to read the following blog post about common cataract risk factors. The more of these risk factors that apply to you, the more important it is that you schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry as soon as possible, especially if you haven’t had an eye exam in the past year.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts refer to the natural lenses of the eyes when proteins have begun to accumulate on them. As these proteins start to clump together, the natural lens becomes cloudy, and vision becomes increasingly obscure. Assuming that a person lives long enough, he or she will inevitably develop cataracts, which will lead to blindness if left untreated. Unfortunately, around the world, especially in third-world countries, cataracts remain a leading cause of blindness. In the United States, however, blindness due to cataracts is extremely rare. Timely diagnosis and treatment are important, which is why it is equally important to know whether you are at risk for cataracts.
What Are the Most Common Risk Factors for Cataracts?
As stated above, the most common and widely known risk factor for cataracts is age. By the time a person reaches the age of 60, his or her risk for cataracts begins to increase with each passing year. By the time a person reaches 75, the chances are approximately 50 percent that he or she either has cataracts or has undergone cataract surgery. Cataract surgery, which involves the surgical removal of the eye’s natural lens and subsequent replacement with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), is the only way to prevent cataracts from causing blindness. Fortunately, the vast majority of patients who undergo cataract surgery emerge with their vision fully restored.
It is important to note that age is not the only risk factor for cataracts. Individually, the following factors may increase your risk for developing cataracts before the age of 60 only slightly; however, if more than one of these factors applies to you, then your risk is proportionately higher.
- Gender: Females are likelier than males to develop cataracts before the age of 60.
- Ethnicity: People of African or Hispanic descent are likelier to develop cataracts before the age of 60 than Caucasians or Asians.
- Eye health: People with other eye diseases or previous eye injuries are at higher risk for cataracts.
- Diabetes: Diabetics are at risk for cataracts, especially if their blood sugar levels are not well controlled.
- Smoking: Smokers are at much higher risk for cataracts than the general population.
- Genetic predisposition: If your family has a history of cataracts, then you are at risk.
- Drinking: People who drink large amounts of alcohol are likelier to develop cataracts before the age of 60.
Learn More about Cataract Risk Factors
To learn more about cataract risk factors, please contact Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry today.
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Dr. Wong and his staff have proven to be the best eye doctor that I have ever visited. He is extremely thorough and up-to-date professionally. He gives you plenty of time. I never feel rushed.Kathrine Holladay