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Cataracts develop when the natural lens inside the eye turns yellow and hard. Doctors classify the types of cataracts depending on the location and growth pattern of the cataract. A nuclear sclerosis cataract, also referred to as a nuclear cataract, grows in the central part of the natural lens. Nuclear cataracts commonly occur with age, but they may appear early. Knowing some of the causes and risk factors may help a person understand the condition.
Some infants have nuclear cataracts at birth, a condition called congenital cataracts, states the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University 1. The cataract usually covers a small central area of the natural lens but may not drastically affect vision. A parent or pediatrician will often notice a white appearance to the center of the pupil, an indication of a congenital cataract 2. Doctors will monitor the cataract for growth, and as the child ages, the doctor will ensure that the child does not have vision loss due to the cataract. In some cases, congenital cataracts may accompany other diseases or conditions, such as congenital rubella, Down syndrome or Lowe syndrome, explains MedlinePlus 2.
Eye Tumor Symptoms
Injury to the eye may cause damage to the tissues of the natural lens, resulting in the early development of a cataract, according to MayoClinic.com. Wearing protective eyewear during sports such as racquetball may help prevent injury to the eye, which will reduce the likelihood of cataract development.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing nuclear cataracts, reports The Eye Digest, an online publication of the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary 4. For overall health, diabetics should monitor and control blood glucose levels to decrease the risk of complications of the disease, and this may also reduce the risk of developing an early cataract.
Doctors often prescribe steroid medications to treat certain conditions, and some eye conditions, such as extensive eye infections, may require steroid eye drops to help with healing. Long-term use of steroids may increase the risk for developing a cataract.
- People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing nuclear cataracts, reports The Eye Digest, an online publication of the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary 4.
- Doctors often prescribe steroid medications to treat certain conditions, and some eye conditions, such as extensive eye infections, may require steroid eye drops to help with healing.
Beginning Stages of Cataracts
Certain lifestyle factors may contribute to the growth of cataracts. For example, cigarette smokers and people who use steroids have an increased risk. In smokers, the various components in the cigarette may damage the protein and cells that make up the natural lens, explains The Eye Digest. Smoking cessation may not reduce the risks of cataract immediately, but stopping will have many positive effects on the body in general.
- Certain lifestyle factors may contribute to the growth of cataracts.
- Smoking cessation may not reduce the risks of cataract immediately, but stopping will have many positive effects on the body in general.
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- Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute: Columbia University: Congenital Fetal Nuclear Cataract
- MedlinePlus: Congenital Cataract
- Mayo Clinic: Cataracts
- The Eye Digest: University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary: What Is a Cataract?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Eye Disorders. Updated September 29, 2015.
- American Optometric Association. Cataract.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Are Cataracts? Updated October 1, 2019.
- Gupta VB, Rajagopala M, Ravishankar B. Etiopathogenesis of cataract: an appraisal. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2014;62(2):103-110. doi:10.4103/0301-4738.121141
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataract Diagnosis and Treatment. Updated October 1, 2019.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. What can I use for my red, itchy eyes after cataract surgery? 2018.
- American Optometric Association. Cataract Surgery.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. Early Intracapsular Cataract Extraction.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. Traditional Cataract Surgery vs. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery. Updated August 28, 2019.
- Stein JD. Serious adverse events after cataract surgery. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2012;23(3):219-225. doi:10.1097/ICU.0b013e3283524068
- Weikel KA, Garber C, Baburins A, Taylor A. Nutritional modulation of cataract. Nutr Rev. 2014;72(1):30-47. doi:10.1111/nure.12077
Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.