Cataract: The Risk Factors & How to Reduce It

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June 15, 2023

As we age, it isn’t just our appearances that seem to be obvious but also our organs and their functions. If you notice your vision gradually getting blurry and cloudy with dimness for any distance for that matter and it worsens as you grow older, chances are you might have cataracts. This happens due to the clumps of protein at a particular area that’s produced by your eye’s natural lens making it foggy, directly impacting your vision focus and clarity as the cataract grows larger.

By now you’d think what are the chances of not getting cataracts? For that, you would need to understand the risk factors of cataracts before learning how to reduce the risk of cataracts. Keep reading as we explain this further for you. 

Before that, it is important to know the type of cataracts there are: 

  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts (back of the lens)
  • Nuclear cataract (center of the lens)
  • Cortical cataracts (small streaks at the edge of the lens)
  • Traumatic cataract (due to eye injury which gradually leads to cataract)

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Cataracts?

We will go with the most obvious first, which is aging. Your bodies struggle to create protection against oxidative stress as you age, in this matter, your eyes. With the loss of transparency of the lens fibers, your eye lens slowly clouds and eventually becomes a cataract

Another link that bridges ageing and cataract is the development of certain diseases and the consumption of medications, which increases the risk of cataracts.  

With a face past and demanding working life, we are all prone to the next risk factor in having cataracts; hypertension. A parallel conclusion has been made that as your blood pressure increases, so does the risk of developing cataracts. 

Given having jobs that consume most of our time, there isn’t a work-life balance allowing many to eat healthily or workout consistently. Watching obesity becoming a global concern, it is no surprise how it affects our eyes too along with other organs and health aspects. Leptin, a particular chemical that’s released by fat tissues said to induce oxidative stress, consecutively is a risk factor for cataracts.

We can’t talk about the risk factors of cataracts without mentioning the infamous disease that correlates to it; diabetes. Did you know that it also increases the probability of complications during cataract surgery? Having less production of insulin to uptake glucose from your bloodstream, your body is prone to ‘sugar cataracts’ as the high concentration of glucose can alter the water content in your natural lens.

Skin cancer isn’t your only concern when it comes to overexposure to sunlight and UV rays. That’s right, even your eyes are in danger especially if you’re someone who is constantly under the sun. The UV- rays cause vision loss as it passes through the natural lens, breaking down the protein which makes it clump together more quickly and subsequently increases the risk for cataracts. 

When we think of eye trauma, the possibility of cataracts might not cross our eyes at the time. From eye inflammation to blunt objects, the trauma force can cause damage to your ocular lens fiber which puts you at a higher risk for cataracts. Bear in mind that it will take a few years before you notice the eye injury has led you to a cataract

Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcoholism are also common risk factors for cataracts. While smoking encourages the travel of toxins which later hasten the oxidative damage of your natural lens, those with high consumption of alcohol are shown to be in need of cataract surgery more than others.

How to Reduce Your Chances of Cataracts?

 

It isn’t possible to entirely prevent yourself from developing cataracts. However, after understanding the risk factors to it, you might be able to get some ideas on how you can reduce the likelihood of getting cataracts like below: 

  • Quit smoking and manage your alcohol consumption
  • Always wear sunglasses outside 
  • Have a healthy diet filled with nutrients known to protect and nourish your eyes
  • Maintain a healthy body (keep track of sugar level and stay within a healthy weight)

 

If eventually, it had come to the worst, there are various treatments available with the advancement of technology nowadays such as no-blade cataract surgery that’s promising for better eye condition after surgery with the right care. Remember that cataract is the leading cause of blindness in Malaysia so we need to take a great deal of care when it comes to our eye health. 

Of course, at one point when you realise you might have cataracts, don’t panic. Just fix an appointment with your ophthalmologist and discuss your diagnosis and best action plan moving forward. 

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