Most of us are used to clear vision when we’re young but as we age, that clear lens we see through, that focuses light behind the pupil becomes cloudy and a little yellowish. This is because our body is able to replace dying cells more quickly when we’re young.
Many people believe that cataracts grow on your eyes, that they cover the lens. The fact is, cataracts are not growths; they are permanent changes to the eye’s focusing lens. Proteins that make up the lens breakdown and stick together. That’s why correcting a cataract means removing the old lens and replacing it with a synthetic lens.
As you can see cataracts are widely misunderstood, even though more than half of seniors living in Ottawa, over 80 years are dealing with them. With this article, we’ll correct the top 5 Myths about Cataracts.
MYTH: ONLY OLD PEOPLE DEVELOP CATARACTS
Fact: It is possible for younger people to have cataracts as well.
It is true that cataracts are mostly caused by ageing however, there are medications such as corticosteroids that can cause cataracts. Some people are born with Congenital Cataracts, a slightly foggy lens appearing at birth.
MYTH: EYEDROPS CAN BE USED TO DISSOLVE CATARACTS
Fact: Cataracts can’t be dissolved at all.
Cataracts are a permanent change to the structure of your eye lens, it’s not something that can be dissolved. The only way to treat a cataract is to remove the defective lens.
MYTH: CATARACT SURGERY IS DANGEROUS AND RECOVERY IS DIFFICULT
Fact: The surgery is safe and you can usually recover at home.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed today, with a 95% success rate. Recovery is a simple process. You should be able to leave the hospital shortly after your procedure. The feeling will return to your eye within a few hours. Your vision will be a bit blurry at first, but it shouldn’t take more than a few days to have your site fully restored. Normal side effects include red watering eyes and temporary blurred or double vision. These are usually improved in the first 2-3 days.
Rest will be recommended and just like all surgeries you’ll want to avoid any heavy lifting, bending or strenuous activity immediately after.
MYTH: CATARACTS GROW BACK AFTER SURGERY
Fact: Cataracts can not grow back.
After removing the defective lens, a cataract can’t grow back because a synthetic lens is in its place. While the new lens isn’t subject to ageing like the human body, some patients develop mild cloudy vision again because the lens has started deteriorating. However, it is a much different corrective procedure that’s required, in our office, taking about 15 minutes.
MYTH: CATARACTS ARE INEVITABLE
Fact: Good habits can help
While cataracts are a natural part of ageing there are things you can do to slow their growth while preserving the health of your eye. UVA and UVB rays from the sun are known for damaging your skin, but they can damage the lens of the eye as well. Wearing UV protected sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat will help.
A healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to help slow ageing signs in the body as well as the eye. Smoking also aids the formation of cataracts. Read more about improving the general health of your eyes here.
Educating the public on cataracts is an important measure. Learning that women are more likely to develop them than men, as are diabetes patients, can inspire those at greater risk to take the health of their eyes into their own hands.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Foggy or double vision
- Changes in how you see colour
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Problems with glare or bright lights
- Seeing a glow or halo around objects
If you’re concerned about cataracts, surgery could be a great option for you, allowing you to get back to your normal daily activities including driving. Speak to one of our optometrists about your options.