Cataracts, the leading cause of blindness in the world are a common age-related condition. Nearly 25 million Americans who are 40 and over develop cataracts, a clumping of proteins in the lens, which causes cloudy or blurry vision, and can eventually result in loss of vision.
Even though cataracts are a very common condition and cataract surgery to remove cataracts is safe and effective, there are still urban legends we’d like to address. Let’s sort out fact from fiction.
Urban Legend #1: Seniors Are The Only Ones Affected
Truth: While cataracts are common enough in seniors that more than half of all Americans have cataracts or have had cataract surgery by the age of 80, “age-related” is a misnomer. People can begin to develop cataracts as early as their forties, but not experience significant vision loss that cannot be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contacts until their sixties and older.
Urban Legend #2: There’s Nothing You Can Do
Truth: The truth is that cataracts can’t be prevented, but there are steps you can take to slow their progression and possibly also reduce your risk of developing them. Tips include:
- Always wearing UVB sunglasses to protect your eyes when outdoors
- Eating a healthy “vision-rich” diet full of antioxidants
- Quitting smoking (or never starting)
- Taking your vitamins
There are a few factors that cannot be avoided for many. Women and those who already have diabetes are at higher risk for developing cataracts.
Urban Legend #3: Cataracts Grows Back After Surgery
Truth: To understand why this urban legend is, in fact, false, you need to understand that a cataract develops within the lens. A cataract is not a film or growth that covers the iris and therefore cannot grow back after your surgery. On the same note, and because cataracts are not a film covering the iris, eye drops cannot “dissolve” your cataracts.
Urban Legend #4: Your Only Treatment Option is Surgery
Truth: Surgery is almost never the first step for cataract treatment, especially in early stages. Mild symptoms can be improved with prescription eyeglasses or contacts, anti-glare sunglasses (preferably with UVB lenses), and brighter lighting. If and when your cataracts grow large enough to cause significant vision reduction and interrupt your normal activities such as your ability to drive or even enjoy a new favorite novel, surgery then becomes the only effective treatment option.
Urban Legend #5: Cataract Surgery is Painful (and Risky!)
Truth: Every surgical procedure carries a certain level of risk, but cataract surgery is the most frequently performed procedure in the country. In fact, the surgery has a 95 percent success rate!
Thanks to medical and technological advances, cataract surgery no longer requires long hospital stays and recovery periods. Currently, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure completed in about an hour at Minnesota Eye Consultants. Your eyes will be numbed so pain will be minimal, and you will be back on your feet by the next day! Just be sure to follow your surgeon’s post-operative directions, which include avoidance of bending or heavy lifting for the first three weeks.
Have additional questions about cataract surgery? Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors at Minnesota Eye Consultants today!