4 Common Cataract Myths, Debunked

Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising are important tasks for a healthy lifestyle. However, annual visits to your primary care physician and medical specialists are also necessary for your health and wellness. Vision plays a key role in your life, but you may not be paying enough attention to your eyes. While shocking to learn, an estimated 24.4 million Americans over the age of 40 develop cataracts. You may have heard of cataracts, but you may not fully understand the causes, effects, and treatment options for this common eye disorder. By debunking these 4 common myths, you will be more familiar with cataracts and how they affect your vision underlying eye health

Close-Up Reading/Viewing Tasks Cause Cataracts

You may have heard that close viewing of the television, sewing, or reading small print causes cataracts, but that is not actually the case. Cataracts are caused by a variety of factors and they can develop without any real warning.

Imbalanced glucose levels, which are common in diabetic patients, cause the fluid of the eye to swell. This swelling causes vision to be cloudy and blurry, which can lead to cataracts. Due to this, diabetic patients have a high risk of developing cataracts. In addition, if you have had surgery on the eye or if you have suffered from a traumatic eye injury, you may develop cataracts.

Even some babies are born with cataracts. These congenital birth defects are usually small and insignificant, but doctors will most likely recommend surgical removal.

Eye Drops Prevent Cataracts

Visit a local discount retailer or drug store and you will find an enormous selection of eye drops. Many of these drops are designed to reduce red, itchy, and watery eyes, but some manufacturers claim the drops will prevent or treat cataracts. Unfortunately, eye drops have not been proven to prevent or reduce cataracts.

The formation of cataracts is a natural part of the eye's aging process, so there are no options for prevention.

Cloudiness Is the Only Symptom

Many people are under the impression that cataracts will cause the eyes to appear cloudy and that this is the only symptom. This is another common myth, since cataracts may make you experience other symptoms. Here are a few common symptoms that may occur:

  • Blurry Vision
  • Halo around lights
  • Inability to focus eyes
  • Difficulty seeing in the dark
  • Decreased ability to distinguish between colors
  • Excessive changes in prescription for vision correction

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you most likely have developed cataracts. Consult your optometrist for detailed testing.

Cataract Surgery Is Dangerous

Correcting your vision with prescription lenses will reduce the symptoms of cataracts. Prescription sunglasses are also beneficial if your cataracts are making it difficult to see in the sun or near bright lights.

If your cataracts are affecting your ability to drive, read, and complete simple tasks, surgery may be your best option. Unfortunately, some people believe the surgical removal can permanently damage the eye, but this is just another myth.

An estimated 3 million Americans have cataract surgery each year and 98 percent of these surgeries are successful, so it is a great option to consider for your eye health.

Your doctor may recommend the Phacoemulsification procedure, which uses ultrasound technology to dissolve the cataract from the eye. During phacoemulsification, or Phaco, a small incision is made, allowing your doctor to remove the cataract remnants.

In more severe cases, extracapsular surgery will be necessary. This requires a larger corneal incision since doctors will need to remove larger sections of the damaged lens. Once removed, a new, artificial lens is implanted to restore vision.

Living with cataracts is possible, but it can decrease your quality of life. By understanding the truths behind these common myths, you will have a better understanding of cataracts.