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Risk Factors for Cataracts

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Cataracts

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get cataracts with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting cataracts are greater in people who have many.

The risk of cataracts increases with age. Other things that can raise the risk are:

Health Problems

These health problems may raise the risk:

Environmental Risks

Being exposed to radiation, toxins, and too much time in the sun can raise the risk.

Lifestyle Factors

Cataracts are more common in people who smoke and those who drink excess alcohol.

Genetic Risks

Having other family members who have certain types cataracts can raise the risk.

This eye problem is not common in children. But some children are born with or get cataracts due to problems at birth, metabolism or chromosome problems, infection, or other reasons.

Eye Harm

Eye injuries raise the risk.

Eye Surgery

Some eye surgeries can raise the risk.


  • Cataract. American Optometric Association website. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract?sso=y. Accessed May 2, 2022.
  • Cataracts. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts. Accessed May 2, 2022.
  • Cataracts in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cataracts-in-adults. Accessed May 2, 2022.
  • What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts. Accessed May 2, 2022.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.