There are known and proven risk factors for cataract
The risk factors for cataract are known and established according to the scientific literature.
Cataract is an age-related eye disease, and therefore risk of cataract rises with increasing age. 85% of people over the age of 75 will develop cataracts.
The risk of cataract is higher in females than males. This is possibly due to a hormonal difference.
Family history of cataract
Risk of cataract due to positive family history is well established. Someone with two or more grandparents with cataracts are two to three times more likely to develop them in later life, compared with someone whose grandparents did not have cataracts.
People with dark skin are more likely to develop cataracts. The reasons for this are uncertain.
Increasingly, research indicates the significance of nutrition with regards to eye health. Fruit and vegetables contain important nutrients which are transported from the body to the eye, and which help protect eyes from disease.
Body mass index (BMI)
There have been many studies on the association between BMI and cataract, and a high BMI is now largely accepted as being a risk for cataract.
Many studies and publications support the probability that diabetics are at increased risk of cataract. In general, diabetic patients require cataract surgery at an earlier age, this being related to the age of onset of the diabetes and how well it has been controlled.
Exposure to light
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation presents the major risk with regards to light exposure.
The associated risk of steroid therapy is well-documented. Examples of steroids include some tablets, eyedrops, inhalers for asthma and creams for eczema.
Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a well-established risk factor for cataract.
The risk of smoking is a known and proven risk factor and there have been many publications on this matter. Smoking causes damaging molecules to make their way through the body to the eye, damaging the lens, the part which is affected by cataracts. Over time, this damage to the eye builds up, and it can mean that a smoker is twice or even three times more likely to develop cataracts than a non-smoker.