Are Cataracts Found Only in Older People?

Cataracts are a part of aging. They are generally considered to be associated with advancing age and the most commonly known type of cataract is the age related cataract or senile cataracts. Age related cataracts are seen in some as early in their 40’s and 50’s although normally seen in people in their 60’s and 70’s. In reality this is not the only type of cataract. Cataract can occur at any age even as early as birth. The deterioration of vision may be gradual and progressive. Many times it is quite unnoticeable in the initial stages.

Some of the most common types of non age- related cataracts are:

  • Congenital cataracts:

As the name suggests congenital cataract occur at birth. The exact causes are not known. It could be hereditary or genetic.

  • Traumatic cataracts:

These mainly occur due to damage in the eye caused by trauma or accidents leading to corneal abrasions. The development of traumatic cataract is normally accelerated faster after the accident. Eye trauma could be caused by chemical burns, radiation etc. It is advisable to use protective eye wear while working in hazardous environment.

  • Metabolic cataracts:

Studies show patients with diabetes and Galactosaemia could cause progression of cataract at a faster rate and could occur at an earlier age.

  • Secondary cataracts:

These are caused due to other factors like eye surgeries. Certain eye surgeries could cause cataracts before aging. Use of certain medications can trigger an early onset of cataract particularly the excessive use of steroids.

Other factors that accelerate the growth of non age related cataracts:

  • Ocular inflammation. e.g. Uveitis.
  • Excessive Smoking & Alcohol.
  • Environmental factors like effect of ultra violet rays, radiation. Use of UV protected sun glasses help to safeguard while going out in sunlight.
  • Uncontrolled Blood sugar and Blood Pressure: These could trigger an early onset of cataract hence it is advisable to keep them under control through diet and exercise.
  • Radiation and work conditions as in welding and glass blowing could cause cataracts at an earlier age.

Treating non age related cataracts: In case of congenital cataract, early treatment for babies at birth is most effective in such cases and a delayed treatment could result in permanent vision loss. Often any retinal scarring from macular degeneration, floaters and other eye disease unrelated to cataract needs to be diagnosed to rule out other causes for decreased vision other than cataract. Timely check up and complete eye examination can detect cataracts early and hence facilitate a quick surgical correction and treatment. Treatment varies depending on the eye condition and best suitability after through eye examination and assessment. The outcome of an early treatment is more beneficial irrespective of the type of non age related cataracts.

A focus on the factors that are controllable and preventable could reduce the risks of cataracts to some extent. Latest advancement in technology and techniques has resulted in better visual outcome with advanced lens as suitable to one’s needs.

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