Causes of Cataract

Causes of Cataract © 2019 American Academy of Ophthalmology

Causes of Cataract

 

 

Natural lens consist mainly of proteins which is called crystalline proteins. Those proteins are arranged in special ways in which the lens will be clear.

For many reasons there will be changes in the biochemical environment inside the lens which will cause these proteins to aggregate leading to opacifications in the lens. These opacifications will increase gradually with time. Many factors will alter the biochemical environment inside the lens.

 

What are the causes of cataract ?

Most of the patients who were diagnosed with cataracts will have a common question for their eye doctor and this question is "what causes cataracts?".

 

These are the most common cataract causes:

1- As a natural age process which is called age related cataracts or senile cataracts. It usually started at the age of 40 and gradually the opacity of the lens will increase to be clinically significant and reduce the vision. It is one of the most common of causes of cataract.

2- Systemic diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension. Hyperlipidemia and other diseases which will cause cataract in younger age or accelerate its course to be clinically significant.

3- After trauma which is called traumatic cataracts. Trauma can be either blunts trauma or penetrating trauma. In this type, the cataract can occur within days or even hours and some times can occur months or years later depend on the severity of trauma.  Read more about Traumatic Cataract

4- Medications like corticosteroid either topical, inhaled or systemic administration , tamoxifen, amiodorone, Chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine related drugs, allopurinol which is used in the treatment of gout. Also pilocarpine and echothiophate iodide eye drops were found to cause cataract.

5- Due to intra-ocular diseases like glaucoma, uveitis, retinal diseases or tumors. Sometimes it can occur after eye surgeries such as retinal surgeries, glaucoma surgeries and even laser surgeries

 

 

6- Congenital Cataract which can occur in newborn and can be caused by many things like genetics, infections during pregnancy like rubella, newborn systemic diseases or drugs administration during pregnancy. This type of cataract should be treated soon because it can cause amblyopia or lazy eye.

7- Radiation Cataract. Prolong exposure to ultraviolet sunlight can cause or accelerate it. Also cases have been reported after the exposure to infra-red radiation and X-rays. It also can be caused by exposure to microwave radiation especially when you look directly and closely to the microwave. Read more about radiation cataract

8- Nutritional causes of cataract in which it can be caused by alcohol consumption which is called alcoholism cataract, smoking or malnutrition with low levels of certain factors called Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids

The only carotenoids that were found in human lens are lutein and zeaxanthin. Increase frequency of intake of food high in them was shown to decrease the risk of cataract formation. Food high in them are broccoli and spinach. Male who smokes 20 cigarettes or more per day has the risk of developing cataract two times. A woman who smokes 35 cigarettes or more a day, the risk will increase by approximately one half. Read more about best foods for eyesight

9- Genetics. In which it can run in families especially in type of cataract called blue-dots cataract.

10- Metabolic causes as in galactosemia, Wilson disease and hypocalcemia.

11- Ocular chemical burns especially alkali injuries and electrical shock can cause cataracts.

 

 

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