An Overview Of The Epidemiology Of Cataracts

A study of the epidemiology of cataracts shows that most cataracts are age-induced, but the reality is that people of any age can have cataracts for a variety of reasons, including genetics, injury or other cataract-related illnesses.
While not all cataracts are age-related, the majority of people 80 years or older either have cataracts or have had cataract removal surgery. People aged 60 and over are recommended to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam with their optician every other year to detect the problem early (National Eye Institute, 2010).

Survey of Age-Related Cataracts

Most cases of cataracts in the population are senile cataracts, meaning that they are age related. These typically appear in individuals 40 years of age or older. Among Americans aged 65 to 74, about half either have cataracts or have had them removed. Of individuals aged 75 and older, about 70 percent have or have had cataracts (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).

Survey of Juvenile and Other Forms of Cataracts

While the majority of cataracts are senile cataracts, about 10 percent are congenital cataracts, meaning that they are hereditary and usually present at birth.
Other types of juvenile cataracts are a result of congenital rubella, congenital syphilis, diabetes mellitus or inflammation due to eye infection. Cataracts can be a result of an injury, such as a blunt trauma to the eye, in any aged individual.

What Other Factors Contribute to Cataracts?

A study in France found that race and ethnicity were not good indicators of a person’s probability for cataracts. Instead, socioeconomic stature was more relevant. This was especially evident in people with diabetes, a condition often related to poor diet due to the consumption of unhealthy yet inexpensive foods.
An increased likelihood of cataracts was also prevalent in smokers and individuals who regularly consumed alcohol, who are often (but not always) on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale (British Journal of Ophthalmology (BJO), 2003).
Diabetes is associated with cortical and posterior subcapsular cataracts, and these types of cataracts can affect people of any age who have diabetes.
Nuclear cataracts were highly indicative of individuals who smoke. In fact, one in six of the studied males with cataracts were linked to cigarette smoking (BJO, 2003). Heavy alcohol consumption is also tied to nuclear cataracts.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight is another contributing factor to cataracts.
If you or a loved one is having trouble coping with cataracts due to age, related health issues or prolonged exposure to sunlight, you may want to consider corrective surgery, the only known cure for cataracts.