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Causes of Cataracts

No one knows for sure why the eye's lens changes as we age, forming cataracts. Researchers are gradually identifying factors that may cause cataracts, and gathering information that may help to prevent them.

Many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development, so eye care practitioners recommend wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to lessen your exposure. Other types of radiation may also be causes.

Other studies suggest people with diabetes are at risk for developing a cataract. The same goes for users of steroids, diuretics, and major tranquilizers, but more studies are needed to distinguish the effect of the disease from the consequences of the drugs themselves.

Some eyecare practitioners believe that a diet high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (vitamin A), selenium and vitamins C and E, may forestall cataract development. Meanwhile, eating a lot of salt may increase your risk.

Other risk factors for cataracts include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and heavy alcohol consumption.