Causes of cataracts
Most cataracts are due to age-related changes in the lens. However, other factors can contribute to their development including:
• Diabetes mellitus—Persons with diabetes are at higher risk for cataracts.
• Drugs—Certain medications have been found to be associated with the development of a cataract. These include:
◦ Chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine related medications
• Nutritional deficiency—Although the results are inconclusive, studies have suggested an association between cataract formation and low levels of antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids). Further studies may show that antioxidants have a significant effect on decreasing cataract development.
Rarely, cataracts can be present at birth or develop shortly after. They may be inherited or develop due to an infection, i.e. rubella, in the mother during pregnancy. A cataract may also develop following an injury to the eye or surgery for another eye problem, such as glaucoma.
While there are no clinically proven approaches to preventing cataracts, simple preventive strategies include reducing exposure to sunlight through UV blocking lenses, decreasing or discontinuing smoking and increasing antioxidant vitamin intake through consumption of leafy green vegetables and nutritional supplements.
Diagnosis of cataracts
Cataracts can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. This examination may include:
Copywrited information courtesy of the American Optometric Association