ZocdocAnswersWhat causes the formation of a cataract?

Question

What causes the formation of a cataract?

My grandmother is developing cataracts. What causes this? Does everyone get it as they age?

Answer

Most cataracts are caused by general effects of old age. These are called senile cataracts (I know, not very politically correct). In older folks that develop cataracts, it is sometimes hard to define exactly why they developed in the first place. We know that people with diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to develop cataracts when they are older. Cataracts that develop at younger ages are usually due to a specific causes. For example people that have had a previous injury to there eye are more likely to get a cataract. Certain medications, especially corticosteroids such as prednisone can cause cataracts. In this case, I am talking about people that have taken prednisone for many months or even years, not those that have taken it for a short course. Finally, some cataracts develop during development and we are born with them. If you have any concerns about your vision, you should first schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can perform a Snellen Chart vision test and a thorough external and internal eye exam. If there is anything concerning found then referral to an ophthalmologist is warranted. Cataract removal is a routine surgery that can restore vision close to what it was before.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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