What causes a cataract?

The most common cause is simply a higher age. Because with increasing age, the metabolic activity of the eye lens decreases slightly. And that can eventually lead to lens opacity, so the cataract.

It is often said that the reasons for cataracts are mostly unknown. This is a bit misleading, because something else is meant. By far the most common form of cataract is the old-age star, who may appear more frequently after the age of 60 years. It is a typical, albeit not necessarily old-age symptom, which is mainly attributed to a slowed metabolism and a change in the protein structure in the affected eye lens. Further, external reasons need not be present.

Diabetes, medications, radiation and other risk factors

Of course, there are other risk factors besides the age for the development of a lens opacity. These include u.a.

  • Smoke
  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus
  • malnutrition
  • White spot disease (vitiligo)
  • myopia
  • previous eye operations

Rare causes

Also eye injuries, drugs and certain medications, e.g. Cortisone, play a role as a disease trigger. But that is rare. Rare causes are also ionizing radiation, UV or sunlight and infrared radiation. The latter is recognized as an occupational disease. And even more unusual causes: The occurrence of a lens opacity can also be the result of a lightning strike or a high-voltage accident.

By the way, a cataract is also possible in infancy. In addition to genetic predisposition, the causes of this rare disorder are damage to the lens of the eye in the womb, such as a rubella infection of the pregnant mother, or at birth.

Author: Dr. Hubertus Glaser