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Cataracts - What Increases Your Risk

Things that increase your risk for cataracts include:

  • Age. Getting older is a major risk factor for cataracts.
  • Family history (genetics). People with a family history of cataracts are more likely to have cataracts. People with certain genetic disorders may also have an increased risk for cataracts.

Some chronic diseases increase the risk for cataracts. Keeping these diseases under control may help lower your risk for cataracts:

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  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at increased risk for cataracts. Damage to the lens of the eye results from persistent high blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • Glaucoma. Surgery to treat glaucoma may raise the risk of cataracts.

Other things that may increase your risk include:

  • Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to develop cataracts. Smoking may damage the lens of the eye by leading to the formation of chemicals called free radicals. High levels of free radicals can damage cells, including those in the lens of the eye.
  • Infection during pregnancy. If a woman has certain infections during pregnancy, such as rubella or chickenpox, the baby may develop a cataract before birth.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposureUltraviolet (UV) light exposure. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is related to cataract development.
  • Long-term use and higher doses of steroid medicines. Long-term use of high doses of steroid medicines for conditions such as asthma or emphysema increases a person's risk for cataracts.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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