Cataracts develop from a variety of reasons, including long-term exposure to ultraviolet light, exposure to radiation, secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and advanced age, or trauma (possibly much earlier); they are usually a result of denaturation of lens protein.
Genetic factors are often a cause of congenital cataracts and positive family history may also play a role in predisposing someone to cataracts at an earlier age, a phenomenon of "anticipation" in pre-senile cataracts. Cataracts may also be produced by eye injury or physical trauma.
A study among Icelandair pilots showed commercial airline pilots are three times more likely to develop cataracts than people with non-flying jobs. This is thought to be caused by excessive exposure to radiation coming from outer space.
Cataracts are also unusually common in persons exposed to infrared radiation, such as glassblowers who suffer from "exfoliation syndrome". Exposure to microwave radiation can cause cataracts. Atopic or allergic conditions are also known to quicken the progression of cataracts, especially in children.
Cataracts may be partial or complete, stationary or progressive, hard or soft.
Some drugs can induce cataract development, such as corticosteroids and Ezetimibe and Seroquel.
There are various types of cataracts, e.g. nuclear, cortical, mature, and hypermature. Cataracts are also classified by their location, e.g. posterior (classically due to steroid use) and anterior (common (senile) cataract related to aging).
Associations with systemic conditions
- Chromosomal disorders
- Alport's syndrome
- Cri-du-chat syndrome
- Conradi's syndrome
- Myotonic dystrophy
- Patau's syndrome
- Schmid-Fraccaro syndrome
- Trisomy 18 (Edward's syndrome)
- Turner's syndrome
- Disease of the skin and mucous membranes
- Atopic dermatitis
- Basal-cell nevus syndrome
- Metabolic and nutrition diseases
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