What is a Risk Factor?
A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.
Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.
But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.
What are the risk factors for cataracts?
Possible risk factors for cataracts include:
Probably the greatest risk factor for cataracts is age. And, although age-related cataracts may develop between 40 and 50 years old, vision is usually not affected greatly until after age 60.
- Geographic location
Recent studies have shown that people who live in high altitudes are more at risk for developing a cataract(s).
- Excessive sun exposure
People who spend more time in the sun may develop cataracts earlier than others. The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends wearing sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to lessen exposure to ultraviolet rays.