If you’re over the age of 40, it’s likely you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a cataract. In fact, nearly 22 million Americans over age 40 have cataracts.
In honor of Cataract Awareness Month this June, it’s time to debunk the myths about cataracts and cataract surgery and remind people they don't have to live with vision loss from cataracts.
A cataract is the clouding of the eye's normally clear lens, blocking the passage of light needed for vision. As we age, they form slowly and cause no pain. An early cataract may hardly be noticeable, but as the cataract grows and begins to affect vision, it can usually be removed with surgery.
Dr. Kerry Solomon, cataract surgeon at Carolina Eye Care Physicians, says people harbor all kinds of misconceptions about cataracts.
1. There is nothing you can do to prevent cataracts
While it’s true that there is no way to prevent cataracts indefinitely, you can make lifestyle choices to slow their development, such as not smoking, protecting your eyes from sun exposure and eating a balanced diet.
2. Only older people develop cataracts
While most cases of cataracts affect older people, people as young as 40 can develop age-related cataracts. In addition, congenital cataracts affect about one in every 250 newborns.
3. Close-up tasks make cataracts worse
Cataracts are not caused by how you use your eyes. They are generally caused by age and aggravated by poor lifestyle choices like smoking and a diet rich in fat, sugar, salt and chemicals. The worsening effect on vision from cataracts may be more noticeable during tasks that require good near vision.
4. There is no treatment for cataracts
While cataracts are not preventable, they can easily be treated. Cataract surgery has undergone tremendous technological advances since the days of your parents and grandparents. Today it is safer and more precise. Even better, the procedure can now do more than simply remove the cataracts and possibly restore your distance vision. Today, an experienced surgeon who has invested and trained in advanced options can enhance your vision while minimizing your dependence on glasses for distance, intermediate and near vision.
5. Recovery from cataract surgery takes months
With today’s surgery, many patients see improvement in their vision immediately following surgery and return to normal activities with limited restrictions as soon as the next day.
6. A cataract must be “ripe” before it can be removed
While this may have been true in the past, it isn’t now. The right time for surgery is as soon as cataracts begin to affect your vision and your daily life. If your driving is hampered by glare or you can no longer enjoy hobbies such as sewing or reading, it’s time for surgery.
“While a new cataract may not need to be removed, many of our patients feel they waited too long for cataract surgery,” says Dr. Kerry Solomon.
7. Cataract surgery is difficult
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed procedure in the US and one of the safest, with a 95% success rate. While there are always risks with surgery, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, which no longer requires stitches or patches, in most cases. In addition, your procedure may not have to be performed in a hospital, but instead at a comfortable ophthalmology surgery center.
Once you understand what a cataract is, how it is removed and how your vision may be improved with the latest options, your concern might actually turn into excitement at the prospect of improved vision. Visit DrKerrySolomon.com or call (843) 881-3937 to discover if it’s the right time for cataract surgery with one the top cataract surgeons in South Carolina.