cataracts

Image from Webmd.com

Until recently, cataracts have typically been associated with older individuals – and for good reason: it’s one of the most common age-related eye diseases, currently affecting nearly 22 million Americans.  Cataracts are so common, in fact, that it’s estimated by the age of 80, almost half of Americans will have a cataract or go through cataract surgery.

However, there’s a new and alarming health trend on the horizon – a significant number of younger people are being diagnosed with cataracts.

Cataracts occur when there’s a significant build-up of protein, which forms a cloud over the eye lens.  This cloud can make it difficult for people to see, as it prevents light from entering the lens.  Cataracts can typically be treated by changing the prescription of a person’s eye glasses or, in more severe cases, replacing the damaged eye lens with an artificial one.

Cloudiness usually builds up over time, which is why cataracts are generally aged-related; however, more young people than ever are being diagnosed with this disease, leaving many ophthalmologists concerned about this increasing trend.

So why are ophthalmologists diagnosing cataracts at a younger age?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Many studies have shown that cataracts can form due to a poor diet that’s deficient in vital nutrition. Diets with low levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids may be to blame for the increased risk of cataracts in younger generations.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption can cause cataracts, which is why many ophthalmologists might be seeing younger generations with this eye disease. While smoking itself isn’t as popular with today’s younger generations, alcohol consumption is rising, with binge drinking a new concern for medical professionals.  This could be contributing to the rise in cataracts in younger patients.
  • Diabetes can also lead to cataracts. With many Americans suffering from obesity – and more younger people than ever with the disease – it’s not surprising that younger generations might develop cataracts.

To ensure that you or your children don’t lose sight to cataracts, it’s important to schedule regular appointments with your ophthalmologist. At NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA – also serving the greater Washington, DC area – Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths and her team can provide superior cataract care and correction, including innovative laser surgeries. You can learn more about cataracts by checking out our cataract FAQ page here.

Contact NewView Eye Center today to schedule an appointment. Simply fill out the form in the top left corner or call (703)834-9777.