Cataract is associated with ageing, but not everyone who suffers from it is old. Some children are born with congenital cataracts, and early detection and treatment is critical to prevent permanent damage. As well as being hereditary, other causes of cataract include eye trauma, sunlight exposure, diabetes, genetic disorders, dehydration in children from severe diarrhoeal infection and fevers, and some medications.
Most people with severe vision loss due to cataract live in developing countries. This is particularly devastating because work, education, and family life are affected, making it hard to escape the cycle of poverty. In some cases, people die prematurely.