Can You Develop Cataracts in Your 20s?

20 Sep 2023Eye Health & General Information

Cataracts are often associated with aging because they mainly affect older individuals. This might lead younger people to think that worrying about them is unnecessary, or that developing cataracts is improbable for them.
However, here’s an unpleasant truth: you can get a cataract in early age. In fact, cataracts can affect individuals at any age!

Cataracts can occur in younger individuals due to various reasons. Today, we’ll go over what causes early cataracts, what are the early signs of cataracts, and more information that can help you address this condition.

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Can young people develop cataracts?

Yes, young people can develop cataracts. As we noted earlier, you may even develop cataracts as early as your teens, and even childhood, although this would be quite rare. There are even people who are born with cataracts. 

This unfortunately means that the people affected by it rarely identify the problem early on. If you want to be on the lookout for the early signs of cataracts, check for the following symptoms:

  • Worsening blurriness of vision
  • Increasing eye strain 
  • Increased lag in your eyes adjusting from near to far focus

Of course, you still need to consult an eye doctor to be certain that your suspicions are correct about early cataracts. Note too, that your eye can appear clear (when casually inspected) even when you have this condition.

In any case, there are a wide range of possible factors contributing to early cataract development. We’ll go over them below.

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The possible factors contributing to early cataract development

Genetics or congenital conditions

Genetics can actually make you more or less susceptible to cataract development at an early age. Moreover, you may even be born with cataracts or get them very soon after birth, which is called congenital cataract. These are often due to genetic mutations.


This factor often astonishes people asking what causes cataracts at an early age. However, it’s the truth: eye injuries can lead to cataracts, which means even the young can get them.

This happens when the trauma disrupts the lens fibres in the eye. This can lead to the lens becoming cloudier, thus losing its original transparency – and from there, you get a cataract.

There are many types of injuries that can lead to this, from blunt blows to penetrating ones. Either way, the point is that trauma to the eye can alter your lens and lead to the condition.

Medical conditions 

There are actually some other medical conditions that can play a role in cataract development. Some examples of these conditions include eczema and dermatitis, inflammatory disorders, and of course, diabetes.

Diabetes in particular has a clear mechanism whereby it can lead to cataracts. Uncontrolled, high blood sugar levels can change the proteins of the eye lens, which can turn into the clouding that becomes a cataract.

UV exposure 

We already know that ultraviolet or UV radiation can cause oxidative stress in various parts of our bodies, like our skin. The same is true of our eyes’ lenses. Sustained, unmitigated exposure to this radiation can actually lead to lens deterioration.

The free radicals created by oxidation in our bodies’ cells is actually responsible for damaging the lenses’ proteins in this case. When you get enough of this damage, the lens begins to lose transparency, almost as if it is scarring, and the result can be a cataract.

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What should you do if you have early cataracts? 

If you think you have cataracts, the first thing to do is see an eye doctor or specialist. Only an experienced professional can assess and perform the tests necessary to figure out if your suspicions are true.

From there, your doctor should also be able to tell you what your options are. Fortunately, even early cataracts have various treatment possibilities.

For example, if your condition was diagnosed early, you may be able to get by with just prescription glasses or contact lenses, as well as a lifestyle change. In more advanced cases, you may require surgery. 

See an eye doctor for a consultation now 

The later your cataract is diagnosed, the more severe it’s likely to be and the more drastic the indicated treatment may become. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to changes in your vision, as well as attend regular eye check-ups.

To that end, you may want to see one of our ophthalmologists. We can examine you and test your vision to determine if you have conditions that require treatment, whether they happen to be early cataracts or vision errors requiring LASIK.

Call us to enquire or book an appointment for an assessment today!