At what age do cataracts appear?

Cataract is one of the most common eye conditions.

However, there are still many doubts about it, at what age can it arise? what are your causes? is it reversible? Find the answers to these questions and more here.

What are cataracts?

Cataract is an opacity of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. This is a structure that is located behind the pupil and allows us to focus images no matter how far away they are.

For this reason, people with cataracts often say that it feels like looking through a foggy window. This can make it difficult to do many everyday tasks, such as reading, driving, and even recognizing familiar faces or expressions.

Although most cataracts develop slowly and initially do not affect vision, if left untreated they can end up affecting vision.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, worldwide, the leading causes of poor vision are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.

At first, the opacification caused by a cataract may only affect a small part of the eye’s lens, although, as the opacification increases, it distorts the light that passes through the eye’s lens and causes different symptoms:

  • Cloudy, blurry, or dim vision.
  • Double vision in one eye.
  • Greater difficulty seeing at night.
  • Sensitivity to light and glare.
  • Loss of colors or yellowish color.
  • Need for brighter light to read or do other activities.
  • Frequent changes in the prescription of glasses or contact lenses.
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At what age do cataracts appear?

Age is the most common cause of cataracts. Although people between 40 and 50 years old can have them, in these cases they are usually small and do not affect vision.

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After the age of 60 is when they begin to be a serious problem for sight. This is because, as we age, the proteins in the lens become denatured and degraded.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation or toxins, over time, also has a cumulative effect that negatively impacts health, including eye function.

Other aspects that can influence the appearance of cataracts are:

  • Celiac Disease: Although it is not common, there have been cases of cataract formation associated with undiagnosed celiac disease.
  • GeneticsChromosomal abnormalities that are usually associated with cataracts are: Alport syndrome, Conradi-Hünermann syndrome, Down syndrome, Edward syndrome, Lowe syndrome, or Turner syndrome, among others.
  • skin problems: the eyes, specifically the lens, and the skin, can be affected by the same diseases, among which the following stand out: atopic dermatitis or eczema, and ichthyosis.
  • smoking: Tobacco addiction has been shown to be linked to an increased risk of developing cataracts. It is also often targeted against alcoholism, although in this case, the evidence is contradictory.
  • trauma: blows or injuries to the eyes can damage the capsule in which the lens is located, allowing the entry of fluids that generate inflammation and obstruct the passage of light to the retina.
  • Medication use: Certain drugs can increase the risk of developing cataracts, such as corticosteroids, which are used against allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, or inflammatory bowel disease, among other conditions. Remember, do not stop taking your prescribed medications, if in doubt consult a health professional.
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Other factors that can influence the appearance of cataracts are: diabetes, obesity, hypertension, previous eye injuries or surgeries, or excessive sun exposure.

How are cataracts treated?

In the presence of any symptoms of cataracts or suspicions that your vision is not working properly, you should consult an ophthalmologist.

To determine if they truly are cataracts, he or she will review your medical history, signs, and perform eye exams, such as visual acuity (in which an eye chart is used to determine the ability to read a series of letters) retinal (in pupils are dilated to facilitate examination) or with a slit lamp.

To correct vision problems, the doctor can prescribe glasses, however, if these do not work, surgery can be used. In this, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a transparent artificial one, called an intraocular.

It is a procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis, that is, you should not stay in the hospital once it is finished. Healing usually takes between seven and eight weeks, so it is common to feel discomfort during this period.

In the event that cataract surgery must be performed on both eyes, the doctor will schedule them so that the extraction in the second occurs when the first has already recovered.

Can cataracts be prevented?

Currently, there are no studies that have shown a way to prevent cataracts or slow their progression. However, specialists point out that certain measures that focus on risk factors may be useful:

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  • Schedule regular eye exams: These are essential to detect cataracts and other vision problems in early stages.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in excess or smoking: smoking, and to a lesser extent alcoholism, are risk factors for cataracts.
  • exercise frequently: Regular physical activity is key for the body, including the eyes, to function properly. It is also a way to reduce some risk factors for cataracts, such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes.
  • wear protection: you must take care of ultraviolet rays all year round, for this, the use of sunglasses is essential.
  • Also remember that it is important to follow a healthy diet, as it helps to obtain all the nutrients that the body needs to function properly. Pay special attention to those foods rich in vitamin A, such as:

    • Meat: chicken and cow.
    • FruitsPairing: avocado, apricot, peach, mango, papaya, tomato.
    • Nuts.
    • Liver: beef or cod.
    • Legumes: beans or beans, chickpeas, peas.
    • Dairy products: cream, fortified milk, butter, cheese.
    • Fish.
    • Vegetables: broccoli, pumpkin, asparagus, spinach, fennel, kale, lettuce, arugula, carrot.
    • Yolk.
    • This is because vitamin A is a key part of a highly light-sensitive retinal pigment, rhodopsin. It also increases the eye’s adaptability, mainly by allowing it to adjust to changes in light and stay moist, and is associated with a reduced risk of many eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration or cataracts.

      Sources consulted: American Academy of Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Eye Institute.

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