When people talk about cataracts, you probably think of things like “vision problems” and “old people.” This isn’t surprising, because it’s estimated that half of the people who reach age 80 are going to develop cataracts.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Did you know that at 40 you might start noticing the first symptoms? At 60, that’s when your vision is the most affected. If you’re approaching 40 or have passed that mark, you need to read today’s article and learn a little more about cataracts.
1. Cataracts don’t form over the eye
The first thing you need to know about cataracts is that they don’t form over your eye. Most people associate this problem with a thin layer on top of the lens of the eye.
The reality is that they form inside the eye and the distorted vision occurs when the proteins that normally compress the lens are broken. T
his process is completely painless and you won’t notice it until later months or even years, by the time when you already require surgery.
We recommend reading: Why is your vision blurry?
2. Age is not a risk factorAnother thing you should know about cataracts is that your age isn’t a determining factor for their appearance. While it’s true that they most often occur among the elderly, anyone can develop this problem.
The most at risk are those who:
- Have had eye surgeries
- Have problems with glaucoma
- Are exposed to sunlight without wearing protective lenses
There are also cases of congenital cataracts, or babies that are born with them. This can happen due to an infection or developmental problems related to a lack of nutrients during pregnancy.
3. Symptoms of cataracts
Although cataracts progress very slowly, if you pay attention you can recognize some of their symptoms in the less advanced stages.
These symptoms are:
- Blurry or unclear vision
- A loss of peripheral vision – that means that it’s more and more difficult to see things that aren’t right in front of you
- Problems distinguishing between colors
- Problems seeing well at night
- Double vision
- Sudden changes in your glasses prescription
4. Cataracts can affect only one eye
One thing you should also remember about cataracts is that they might occur in only one eye. It’s more common to develop “bilateral cataracts,” but some people are only affected on one side.
This can happen when you suffer from a trauma to one eye. That’s why it’s always a good idea to see an eye doctor when you’ve suffered any type of incident or accident around your eyes.
Odds are that you don’t feel any discomfort in the moment of impact. What’s more, it might take a few years before you realize that you suddenly can’t see well.
5. Your vision is affected in different ways
It’s generally believed that the existence of cataracts implies an inability to see well. There are patients who develop this disease and see perfectly fine, however, with the only difference being that light affects them more than other people.
Others may have difficulty when there is little light or at night, but in natural light they see well.
One thing you should know about cataracts is that they are not all the same.
6. Surgery is not always neededThose who start having problems with cataracts can cope with less intrusive treatments. You can spend years without needing surgery and without risking more problems associated with them.
It’s important to talk it over with your doctor and evaluate if the damage you’re seeing now due to cataracts affects your daily life.
Based on that, you can make the best decision. You might find that all you need are some medications and regular visits to the eye doctor.
7. Cataract surgery is common and safe
It’s normal to feel some panic or fear when your doctor tells you that you have cataracts and the best procedure is surgery. If this is the case with you and you have doubts, you should know that it’s one of the most common and safe procedures that there is.
There is currently a 96% chance of success with this procedure, a statistic that makes it one of the safest medical interventions. The surgery requires only local anesthesia and a small incision. No stitches are required.
The surgeon will remove the natural lens from your eye, cleanse the built up debris, and implant a new lens. The procedure lasts 15 to 20 minutes, and in a few hours you’ll be back at home.
After the surgery, you’ll need to wear eye protection and you won’t be able to run or perform much physical activity for a couple of weeks.
You’ll find that your vision is clearer the day after your surgery and over the next four weeks you’ll completely recover your normal vision. You’ll be able to see better than ever!
8. The best way to prevent cataracts is to visit an eye doctorYou should go to the eye doctor at least once a year to prevent the occurrence of cataracts and other eye disorders.
During your visit, you can mention whether or not you’ve noticed any of the symptoms above. They will tell you if you have a specific problem or if it’s actually the signs of cataracts, and what to do to slow their progression.