A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop cataracts with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing cataracts. Ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk of developing cataracts.
Risk factors may include, but are not limited to:
The most common risk factor for cataracts is age. Approximately half of all Americans between the ages of 65 and 75 have cataracts.
The following medical conditions may increase your risk of developing cataracts:
Exposure to radiation, some toxins, and excessive exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
Smoking can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
Too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
People with relatives who have certain types of cataracts are more likely to develop cataracts than people who do not have relatives with cataracts.
Cataracts are not common in children. However, some children are born with or develop cataracts due to birth defect, inborn errors of metabolism, chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down's syndrome), prenatal infection, or other reasons.
Eye injuries—such as those suffered from a cut, puncture, or hard blow—increase your risk of developing a cataract.
Certain eye surgeries, such as surgery for a retinal detachment, can increase your risk of developing a cataract.
Cataract. American Optometric Association website. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract?sso=y. Accessed May 10, 2017.
Cataracts. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/cataracts-2. Updated November 20, 2015. Accessed May 10, 2017.
Cataracts in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116240/Cataracts-in-adults. Updated November 28, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2017.
Facts about cataract. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts. Updated September 2015. Accessed May 10, 2017.
What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts. Updated November 15, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2017.
What is a cataract? NIH Senior Health website. Available at: https://nihseniorhealth.gov/cataract/whatisacataract/01.html. Updated January 2013. Accessed May 10, 2017.
Last reviewed May 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 12/20/2014