Does Everyone Get Cataracts When They Get Older? (101)

Ah, aging. It’s like a river that’s constantly flowing and we’re all aboard the boat, whether we like it or not. One of the commonly asked questions about the voyage of life is, “does everyone get cataracts when they get older?” Let’s unravel this question, much like we’d unfurl the sails on our boat.

Cataracts 101: An Overview

Before jumping into the deep waters, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page about what cataracts are. An eye cataract is a clouding of the natural lens. Imagine your eye as a camera. The lens should be clear to pass light to the retina. But over time, this lens can start to break down, clouding the vision.

Risk Factors That Speed Up Cataract Development

While age is a significant factor, there are other risk factors that can accelerate cataract development. These include:

  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays: Always block the sun with good sunglasses!
  • Eye injury: Whether it’s sports-related, an accident, or just a mishap at home.
  • Certain medical conditions: Like diabetes.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption.

Does Everyone Really Get Cataracts with Age?

Technically, age-related cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions in the United States. But the statement that everyone will experience them isn’t entirely accurate. While the risk increases as we age, not everyone will develop them. Think of it like this: more than half of all Americans have cataracts or have had cataract surgery by the time they are 80 years old. Yet, that doesn’t mean the other half has them.

A Peek at Traumatic and Congenital Cataracts

While we’re on the subject, did you know there are different types of cataracts? Age-related cataracts take the spotlight, but traumatic cataracts can form after an eye injury. Meanwhile, congenital cataracts appear at birth or in early childhood, often in both eyes.

Answering The Burning Questions:

  • Is it possible to never get cataracts? Yes! Not everyone will develop cataracts. A lot depends on one’s genetic predisposition, overall eye care, and external factors like protection against UV rays.
  • Does everyone get cataracts in old age? No. While it’s a common cause of cataracts, not everyone past a certain age will get them.
  • What is the average age to develop cataracts? Most people begin experiencing symptoms of cataracts in their 60s and 70s. However, remember that they can develop at any age.

The Different Faces of Cataracts

Having clarity in vision is crucial for our daily tasks, be it reading your favorite novel, driving at night, or simply admiring nature’s beauty. Let’s explore its various types that can, unfortunately, blur this clarity:

Types of Cataracts:

  • Nuclear Cataracts: These form in the center of the lens. Initially, it may even lead to a temporary improvement in close-up vision, but over time this fades and vision deteriorates.
  • Cortical Cataracts: Characterized by whitish, opaque streaks that start at the edge of the lens and work their way to the center.
  • Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts: Beginning as a small, opaque area near the back of the lens, right by the path of light, these tend to progress rapidly.

Symptoms of Cataracts in Old Age

As individuals age, it can become a common concern. The development of this disease is generally a gradual process, and its symptoms might not be immediately noticeable. However, as it progress, they can significantly affect vision. Here are the common symptoms in older individuals:

  1. Blurred or Cloudy Vision: One of the primary symptoms is a gradual decline in clarity, making images appear blurred or misty.
  2. Difficulty with Night Vision: Those with cataracts often find it harder to see clearly at night, making tasks like driving more challenging.
  3. Sensitivity to Light: Bright lights might seem too glaring, and there may be a halo effect around them.
  4. Fading Colors: Colors might appear less vibrant, or there might be a yellowish or brownish tint to everything. This change can be so gradual that people don’t always notice it until after undergoing cataract surgery and seeing the vibrant colors again.
  5. Double Vision in One Eye: This is not the kind of double vision that occurs with some health problems. It’s more like a ghosting effect, where a second, slightly offset image appears alongside the main one.
  6. Frequent Changes in Eyeglass Prescription: A notable and consistent change in the prescription of glasses or contact lenses can be a sign.
  7. Seeing Halos around Lights: This can be particularly noticeable when looking at streetlights or oncoming headlights while driving at night.
  8. Problems with Brightness: Sunlight or indoor lighting might seem overly bright or glaring.
  9. Difficulty Reading: Even with reading glasses on, small print can become challenging to decipher.

It’s essential to note that while these symptoms can indicate the presence of cataracts, they might also be indicative of other eye conditions. Therefore, if someone is experiencing any of these signs, they should see an eye doctor for a comprehensive examination. Regular eye check-ups can help in early detection and its management , ensuring that the elderly can continue to enjoy clear vision.


In the journey of understanding whether “does everyone get cataracts when they get older”, we’ve navigated through the intricacies of cataract development, its symptoms, and the importance of proactive eye care. While aging is an undeniable factor, it’s clear that not everyone will face this visual challenge. Prioritizing regular check-ups and staying informed can make all the difference. Remember, clarity in vision paves the way for a brighter and clearer tomorrow. Whether these are an inevitable part of your journey or not, being prepared and knowledgeable is your best defense.