Most of us are fortunate to begin our lives with clear vision. It’s easy to take such a beautiful gift for granted. But when conditions such as cataracts occur, we realize what we’re missing.
Cataracts are something most people experience as they age; over time, the lens in our eyes (which is typically clear) becomes foggy. The lens is situated right behind the coloured part of the eye (the iris). Its purpose is to focus light so your brain can process the information, translating it into a picture. The cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, so you can’t focus on light as you used to. Instead, you experience blurry vision and other types of vision loss, depending on the severity and location of the cataract.
Many patients believe cataracts grow on top of the eye, covering your lens. However, it’s essential to understand that cataracts are not growths but permanent changes to the lens. That’s why we can correct a cataract by removing the old, cloudy lens and replacing it with a synthetic lens. Due to the confusion and misconceptions about cataracts, we wanted to share and correct the Top 5 Myths About Cataracts. But, first, it’s essential to explore the symptoms of cataracts.
It can be tough to notice a cataract when it first develops since our vision usually changes slightly over time. Common symptoms to watch out for include:
- Changes in how you see colour.
- Difficulty seeing (and driving) at night.
- Double vision.
- Foggy vision.
- Glare and bright lights become problematic.
- Objects start to develop a halo or glow around them.
MYTH: Cataracts are inevitable.
REALITY: There are ways to prevent or slow their formation.
Even though cataracts are a natural part of the ageing process, there are ways to preserve the health of your eyes. For example, UVA and UVB rays from the sun can damage the eyes lens, but wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a wide-brimmed hat will help. You’ll also benefit from a healthy diet, which will help slow the signs of aging in your body and eyes. Be sure to add omegas from fish and nuts, and eat plenty of greens and a variety of colourful vegetables. Additionally, women are more prone to develop cataracts than men. It’s also prevalent in patients who smoke or those at risk for diabetes.
MYTH: Eyedrops can dissolve cataracts.
REALITY: Cataracts cannot be dissolved.
Not even a little bit. Since cataracts are a permanent change to your eyes’ lens, it’s not something that can be treated with natural or home remedies. Instead, removing the lens is the only way to improve your vision after cataracts set in.
MYTH: Cataracts only affect seniors.
REALITY: Younger people can develop cataracts as well.
Most cataracts occur due to an aging eye, but some people are born with them. Congenital Cataracts are slightly foggy lenses appearing at birth. Additionally, there are medications such as corticosteroids that can promote the growth of cataracts.
MYTH: The surgery is dangerous and has a difficult recovery.
REALITY: UCIHealth, a non-profit (American) organization dedicated to eye health and research, shows us that Cataract surgery has a 99% success rate.
Recovery is at home over a few days. Your vision will likely be a little blurry initially, but eyesight is often fully restored in 2-3 days. These side effects, along with red or watery eyes, are normal. Complications are rare and usually mild such as corneal swelling or inflammation around the eye. However, patients with dry eyes, diabetes, or macular degeneration should discuss the procedure with their optometrist to ensure it is still a beneficial option.
MYTH: Cataracts will grow back after the surgery.
REALITY: Cataracts can’t grow back.
Once the cloudy lens is removed, it’s replaced with a synthetic lens. These lenses aren’t subject to aging like our natural lenses are. However, after cataract surgery (as early as a few months and sometimes years), about one-third of patients develop symptoms similar to cataracts again, such as blurry vision and glare. These symptoms are caused by a protein that grows on the back of the capsule the lens was implanted into. It is sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract,” but don’t fret. It is not another cataract, and the lens does not need to be replaced. Instead, your optometrist will refer you back to the ophthalmologist so they can perform a procedure to remove the protein growth (called a posterior capsule opacification). The procedure (known as a YAG capsulotomy) is quick, simple, and only needs to be done once (the protein will not return).
Though cataracts are natural and common, they are serious. Speak to your optometrist about the symptoms you’re experiencing to determine if cataract surgery is right for you.