As we age, the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud over, causing blurred vision, faded colors, increased glare from artificial lights, and difficulty seeing in low light. At some point, cataract surgery may be necessary to restore vision.
By the age of 80, more than half of Americans will have cataracts. Despite cataracts being one of the most common causes of vision loss, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding the condition.
1. Cataracts can be prevented or reversed
There is no known way to prevent cataracts. Several factors can increase the speed at which we develop cataracts and, conversely, there are things we can do to slow the process. However, in most cases, we are only delaying the inevitable.
Maintaining a healthy diet, wearing UV eye protection, and refraining from smoking may slow the progress of a cataract. Eye injuries, diabetes, and long-term steroid use can increase the risk of cataracts or cause them to develop at a younger age.
2. Cataract surgery is complex and risky
Cataract surgery is an extremely safe procedure with a 95% success rate. An ophthalmologist removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens implant.
Cataract surgical treatment is usually an outpatient procedure, and there are very few complications. Modern cataract surgery takes around 30 minutes. Most people can see well enough to return to light activities within a few days.
Patients should avoid more strenuous actions like lifting heavy objects for a few weeks.
3. Cataracts can return after surgery
This common misconception among cataract sufferers puts many off having the surgery in the first place. During surgery, the ophthalmologist removes the affected lens, and the artificial replacement isn’t susceptible to developing a new cataract. Cloudiness can develop behind the implant, but this is easy to treat using a laser.
4. You need to wait until a cataract is “mature” before surgery
Cataract surgery is elective, so you can have it done at any time. As soon as a cataract causes enough vision loss to disrupt your daily life and completing tasks becomes difficult or dangerous, you should consider having cataract surgical treatment.
If you’re suffering from cataracts and you’re interested in having them treated, talk to your eye doctor. They will assess your suitability for the surgery and refer you to a specialist who can help you restore your vision and your quality of life.