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Causes of Cataract

People frequently ask about the cause of cataracts. The lens in the eye is made up of a multitude of fibers that are regularly oriented in the eye. This regular orientation allows the light to pass through and be focused by the lens of the eye. A cataract is just a clouding in the lens. The most common reason for the development of cataracts is age. The lens continues to grow throughout life. As it grows, the central fibers have a tendency to be compressed by the growing external fibers. This results in a color change in the lens that results in blurred vision: we call this color change nuclear sclerosis. This is the most common type of age related cataract. However, any insult to the eye that causes the lens fibers to lose their regular orientation will cause cataract. The proteins in the lens can aggregate from a number of factors. Trauma can result in cataract, and even a distant injury can sometimes result in earlier development of cataracts. Inflammation in the eye from a severe infection, or an autoimmune disease such as uveitis can also cause cataracts. Smoking and diabetes are also associated with early onset cataracts. There are conditions such as neurofibromatosis type 2 that is associated with cataract, and congenital infections that can cause cataract in babies. Some of these conditions include toxoplasmosis caught from cats or uncooked meat, rubella, cytomegalovirus, and syphilis. Occasionally diabetes that is particularly uncontrolled can result in a rapid development of cataract. In this case, the blood sugar that is elevated travels into the lens. This causes the water to follow after the sugar resulting in swelling and development of cataract rapidly. Exposure to UV light can also have an effect on development of cataract such as welders. There is no vitamin or supplement at this time to prevent cataracts. Each person should eat a healthy, balanced diet with green, leafy vegetables to promote the health of their eyes. If you think you have cataracts in central Texas, Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, or Georgetown, please call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aaker. Our office number is 512-686-1224.

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