Cataracts are commonly associated with aging, but they can affect younger people too.

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Most people who are going to get cataracts actually start to develop them in their 40s and 50s, but they don’t affect vision until you are 60 or older.

Children can develop congenital cataracts or cataracts caused by metabolic disease.

 

If you have had eye trauma or radiation treatment, if you take corticosteroids, or if you are a long-term diabetic, you have a greater risk of developing cataracts earlier.

 

Risk Factors

As people age, the risk of developing cataracts increases due to the natural aging process and prolonged exposure to UV damage.

Lifestyle choices can increase the risk of cataracts – smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and poor nutrition.

Eye injuries, including blunt trauma or exposure to harmful substances, can contribute to the development of cataracts.

People who have diabetes and hypertension, or obesity, may be more prone to cataracts at a younger age.

Symptoms

If the cataract is in one eye only, then the effects may not be noticed until the cataract has progressed.  Affects that may be noticed include difficulty reading, recognising faces, driving or watching television and their vision may be worse in bright light. Some people experience double vision and see haloes.

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Prevention and Early Intervention

While age-related cataracts may be unavoidable, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing cataracts at a younger age:

UV Protection:

Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, along with wide-brimmed hats when outdoors. Choose sunglasses that meet the Australian/New Zealand standards for eye protection.

Healthy Lifestyle:

Maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and manage chronic health conditions effectively.

Eye Safety:

Protect your eyes when playing sport and at work. Wear protective eyewear to reduce the risk of eye injuries.

Regular Eye Checks:

See your optometrist regularly, regardless of your age. Regular check-ups enable early detection and intervention for any eye conditions, including cataracts.