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Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process for most people. In fact, 90% of people will develop a cataract by age 65, though many may not experience symptoms for months or even years after the cataract develops.

However, there are a number of additional cataract risk factors that can cause cataracts to develop more quickly or earlier in life:

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glaucoma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or an autoimmune disorder

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regularly using tobacco, alcohol, and/or corticosteroids

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to sunlight, UV rays or X-ray

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Eye trauma:

eye-related injuries, burn

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Nutritional deficiency:

low levels of antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids)

Cataract formation

Behind your iris and pupil, there’s a lens that works a little like a camera lens. It not only helps to focus light that passes into your eyes, helping to produce clear, sharp images on your retina, but it also adjusts your eye’s focus so you can see close up and far away. This lens is made up of protein, and as we age, some of this protein will start to clump together and cause a cloudy spot on the lens of the eye. The resulting blurring, clouding, and discoloration are what is considered a cataract.

Diagram of a healthy lens

Healthy lens

Diagram of a cloudy lens from an eye cataract

Cloudy lens

A cataract will start off small, and as it continues to develop, the clouding will become thicker and cover a larger area of the lens. This blocks light from getting to your retina, and as a result, your vision will become blurry, cloudy, and discolored.

Can you get cataracts in both eyes?

Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. This will cause your vision to be different in each eye.