Cause – What is the main cause of cataracts?

The main cause of cataracts is simply ageing. As people grow older, the proteins in their eyes’ natural lenses break down, resulting in clouding, which impairs vision. Nobody knows why the eyes’ lenses change as we get older, causing cataracts, but around 30% of adults over the age of 65 will have a cataract that affects their vision and requires surgery.

Cataracts can also be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, diabetes, taking steroids or steroid-based medication, eye injury or historic eye surgery.

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness in the world, and, there are three main types of cataracts: subcapsular cataracts – occurring at the back of the lens; people with diabetes or taking steroids have a higher risk of developing a subcapsular cataract, nuclear cataracts – which form in the centre of the lens and are usually associated with ageing, and, cortical cataracts – characterised by white blotches that start at the edge of the lens and gradually increase in size and make their way to the centre.

Other related questions

  • Hospital – which hospital will do my cataract surgery?

  • Referral – how do I get a referral for surgery?

  • Symptoms – Can you see cataracts?

  • LASIK surgery – Can a person with cataracts have LASIK surgery?

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