Cataracts are not only a common cause of vision impairment, but they are also the number one cause of blindness across the world. In the United States alone, this eye disease impacts 24.5 million people. To make matters more unnerving, the National Eye Institute estimates that the number of Americans with cataracts will double to about 50 million by 2050.
Despite being a common eye disorder, however, there seems to be a deluge of misconceptions regarding said topic. To clarify some of the false information about cataracts on the internet, the goal of this article is to separate fact from fiction, and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this blinding medical condition.
First, what is a cataract?
Before we discuss the most persistent misconceptions about cataracts, let us explain the basic facts.
A cataract is present when there is a dense, “cloudy” area in the normally clear lens of the eyes. It can form in either one or both eyes, but it cannot spread from one to the other.
People who have cataracts compare the condition to looking through a foggy window. Since it’s obstructing their vision, simple tasks such as recognizing facial expressions, driving, and even reading are suddenly challenging.
The lens of the eye is the clear portion that helps focus light onto the retina. The retina itself is sensitive to light and shifts images into nerve signals, which are then directed to the brain. If the lens of your eye is cloudy, then the retina receives less light, and will therefore send a blurry image to the brain.
What are some misunderstandings about cataracts?
Now that you understand what cataracts are, let’s dispel some common cataract myths.
Myth #1: Young people are immune to cataracts.
Cataracts commonly affect adults over the age of 40, but young children can also develop them, and some babies are even born with cataracts. Furthermore, a 2017 study revealed an increase in cataract cases among young adults.
Instead of thinking you’re too young to have cataracts, schedule yearly appointments with your Sun City eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
Myth #2: Cataract surgery is dangerous and may cause actual blindness.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective operations in the world. Plus, it is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States, successfully improving the vision of 9 out of 10 cases.
Myth #3: Cataracts are reversible.
In truth, the formation of cataracts are almost unavoidable since, as people age, the lens in each eye will cloud naturally. In hindsight, there are ways to delay the onset of cataract formation. These strategies include:
- Quitting smoking. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of many different eye diseases, including cataracts.
- Eating a well-balanced diet. Those who consistently follow a nutritious diet comprising fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may have a reduced risk of cataract formation. Read A Blinding Diet: Nutrition and Cataracts for more information.
- Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Shielding your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun can keep your eyes healthier for longer.
Myth #4: You can cure cataracts with medication.
There is currently no medication available that can cure or reverse cataracts. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are no FDA-approved drops or medicine that can address cataracts. The only proven method of improving cataract-induced vision loss is to undergo surgery, which entails removing the eye’s clouded lens and then replacing it with a different lens.
Myth #5: Tasks that involve focusing up close with intense concentration can make cataracts worse.
If you have an office job, then you probably do a lot of close work, such as working at a desk and staring at a computer from nine to five. Although engaging in close-up tasks over long periods can strain your eyes and cause eventual vision problems, it does not lead to cataracts.
Myth 6: A cataract can grow back after surgery.
A cataract develops when the cells of your lens die and begin to clump. Therefore, it is incorrect to call them a “growth” or assume that they can grow back.
If you and your eye doctor in Maricopa County, AZ decide that cataract surgery is right for you and you proceed with the procedure, then it is crucial to know that there is a slight risk for a secondary cataract to develop within the membrane that holds your new lens implant.
On the off chance that a secondary cataract forms and compromises your vision, contact your eye clinic as soon as you can. Don’t worry, your doctor can easily remove the secondary cataract through a quick and painless laser surgery.
Myth #7: Surgery is the one and only option for treating cataracts.
Cataract symptoms can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, the eyes are extra sensitive to glare, and colors appear faded. Mild symptoms may be improved with anti-glare sunglasses or new prescription lenses. On the other hand, severe cataracts cause extremely cloudy vision that makes recognizing faces, driving, and reading impossible.
If a cataract is interfering with your everyday activities, then cataract surgery is the only effective treatment.
If you have a cataract, there is hope at Arizona Retinal Specialists
Since it’s the leading cause of vision loss in America and around the world, our doctors believe that it’s essential for you to understand what is fact and fiction when it comes to cataracts.
Cataracts may not be preventable, but they are treatable. The best way to ensure that your eyes stay healthy for a lifetime is to visit an ophthalmologist in Maricopa County, AZ. After all, over 90 percent of patients who undergo cataract surgery regain useful vision.
If you don’t have an eye doctor, we at Arizona Retinal Specialists would love to help you preserve or improve your vision. Call us at 623-474-3937 (EYES) to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at a location near you. Our friendly customer representatives are awaiting your call today, so please don’t hesitate!