21st of July 2023

Reason Why Younger People Might Get Cataracts

Cataracts are common as we get older, but occasionally a younger person (age under 50) develops symptomatic cataracts. Here are some risk factors for earlier onset cataracts:

  • Smoking

Smoking causes the eyes to be exposed to harmful oxidants. These can cause premature ageing of the eyes’ lens resulting in early onset cataracts.

  • Alcoholism

Excess, harmful alcohol intake can lead to metabolic abnormalities and deficiencies that can result in early cataracts. In particular, the combination of alcoholism and smoking accelerates cataract formation more than either substance alone.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus, especially when poorly controlled, can result in premature ageing of the lens and cataract development.

  • Short-sightedness (myopia)

Some people who are highly short-sighted, can develop posterior cataracts earlier in life.

  • Eye trauma

Previous eye trauma, especially trauma involving the eye’s lens, can result in damage to the lens and its capsule, resulting in cataract formation. Also, previous trauma can damage the structures supporting the cataract, which can increase the risk of a complication during surgery.

  1. Other eye conditions or surgery

Other eye conditions, such as repeated episodes of eye inflammation, can lead to cataract developing in younger individuals. Previous eye surgery can also induce early cataracts, such as vitrectomy surgery, in which the gel inside the eye is removed to treat retinal conditions.

  1. Childhood cataracts

Rarely cataracts can occur in children – either through direct genetic causes (congenital cataracts), metabolic conditions of young age affecting the lens, or other eye diseases of childhood.