Cataracts are becoming more commonplace now than at any time in history. Some people have a genetic predisposition (small percentage). Some of it is behavior and some of it is considered to be aging. MOST factors can be avoided or mitigated.

The main causes are:

- Aging. About 20% of the population over the age of 60 have at least the beginning stages of a cataract in one of both eyes. Over the age of 75, the figure jumps to 80%.

- Antioxidant deficiency. Inadequate intake of antioxidants, particularly n-acetylcarnosine, Vitamin E and carotenoids is believed to the causitive agent to the eyes and the damage done to the lenses by oxidative stress.

- Solar Radiation. UV or ultraviolent radiation can damage our lenses as well as cause skin related issues. Sunglasses are a must, not just for "style" but as a preventive measure as well.

-Diabetes. This pernicious disease damages many organs and tissues, including the eyes. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness. It is also one of the most preventable diseases. How? Reduce obesity and get to a healthy weigth.

- Drugs. Glucocorticoids, a powerful class of anti inflammatory agents have as its side effect, cararacts.

- Smoking. It is rather hard to imagine why so many still smoke, given the huge list of harmful side effects from this habit. Damage to the eyes is one on the huge list.

Severe dehydration. Poor nutrition and diseases like cholera found in Third World countries are reasons why cataracts are commonplace there.

- Heredity. Not much can be done relating to this other than massive dosages of prevention.

There many be other factors but these are the most common. As mentioned, FORTUNATELY most (all?) are preventable to a large deree.

Dr. David Orman

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