3 Myths About Cataracts You Probably Believe
Cataracts have robbed people of their vision for centuries. Luckily, we live in an age with modern medicine where cataract surgery is not only the most frequently performed procedure in the United States but considered one of the safest with a 95 percent success rate. Given the long history of this eye disease, there are several persistent myths and misconceptions about cataracts and cataract surgery. Some of the anecdotes we hear at Intracoastal Eye in Wilmington include:
1. Myth: Only Advanced Cataracts Qualify for Surgical Removal
Our eye doctor can remove the clouded natural eye lens (cataract) when you begin having trouble reading small print or identifying street signs. This eye disease creates many visual disturbances before progressing to blindness, including muted colors or yellowish overlay, blurry images, light halos, difficulty reading in low lighting and rapid prescription changes for eyeglasses or contact lenses. A cataract does not have to be “ripe” for cataract surgery — the procedure can remove a cataract as soon as it affects your vision.
2. Myth: A Cataract Can Grow Back After Surgery
Some people think a cataract develops as a film over the eye, which is why another myth involves eye drops that dissolve cataracts without surgery. A cataract forms inside your eye’s natural lens due to proteins that clump together, creating a hazy appearance and dim vision. As the eye disease worsens, the proteins adhere to each other until the entire lens is clouded, causing blindness. Cataract surgery removes your eye lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens implant that is impervious to cataracts. A cataract cannot grow back because the natural lens is broken up and removed from the eye.
Cataracts are not contagious and do not spread from one eye to the other, though some patients develop them in both eyes in a short timeframe.
3. Myth: Only Older Adults Get Cataracts
It is true that cataracts primarily impact aging loved ones, with most Americans experiencing a cataract by age 80. Middle-aged adults often have cataracts too, but they are not as advanced and may not affect eyesight yet. It is possible to develop a traumatic cataract after an eye injury or as a complication from another eye surgery such as a glaucoma procedure.
While you can’t prevent cataracts, you can mitigate your risk level by wearing sunglasses that protect against UV light rays, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and managing medical conditions such as diabetes. Regular eye exams can identify cataracts in their early stages, but it will not harm your eyes if you delay cataract surgery until you experience vision loss.
Cataract surgery is the only “cure” for cataracts. However, brighter lighting in your home and office, anti-glare sunglasses and new prescription eyeglasses can manage the beginning stages of cataracts.
If you are experiencing vision changes, contact Intracoastal Eye in Wilmington, North Carolina, to schedule your comprehensive eye exam and learn more about cataracts.