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Cataract Facts and Myths

Like most medical conditions, there are plenty of misconceptions about cataracts. Most people understand that cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, and a negative indicator of eye health. But what about the cause(s) behind them, their progression and what they can ultimately mean? The following will separate some common myths from the facts so you’re better informed about your eye health as it relates to cataracts.

Myth #1: Growing older is the only cause of cataracts.

Cataracts and aging are often seen as hand-in-hand, and for good reason. Cataract development is often connected to growing older, and a majority of people past 80 years old have had at least one cataract already. But there’s also a widely perpetuated myth that aging is the only cause of cataract development, and this is categorically untrue.

In fact, smoking, certain diseases (like diabetes) and excessive UV exposure are all major contributors to cataract development. The good news about this is that there’s a lot of power in prevention when it comes to this vision problem. If you avoid smoking and focus on limiting sugar and eating healthfully, you can decrease your chances of suffering from cataracts greatly. Wear UV-protecting sunglasses as often as possible, and you’ve decreased your odds of developing cataracts even more. Even if you’re in the later stages of life, there’s still plenty of time to take preventive steps to care for your eye health – and overall health – and make an impact.

Myth #2: There’s nothing I can do to slow the development of cataracts.

When someone is diagnosed with a cataract, they often wonder what their options are. More often than not, they think their options include either having cataract surgery or not having cataract surgery. And while your eye doctor may advise you to have cataract surgery in order to protect your vision, there are still actions you can take to strengthen your eyes and slow the development of cataracts in the meantime.

For example, there are eye exercises you can perform that actually have actually been shown to positively impact eye health. While not a cure for cataracts, they may help improve your vision, strengthen your eyes and provide relief from strain. You can also choose to eat nutrient-dense foods that nourish your eyes and exercise regularly, so there is ample blood flow throughout your body. All of this can contribute to improved vision and better eye health overall.

Myth #3: If I don’t want to have cataract surgery, I can just let it go and it won’t get worse.

The truth about cataract surgery is that it has high rates of success, and is often credited with saving vision. On the flip side, avoiding cataract surgery due to fear or financial reasons can be detrimental to your eye health. Untreated cataracts are a leading cause of blindness, so it’s not advisable to ignore them and hope they go away on their own. The positive part of all this is that cataract surgery isn’t extensive or known to be very painful; the procedure typically takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish and your surgeon will be sure to minimize your discomfort by using drops and pain relievers. The upsides of cataract surgery are many.

Still have questions about cataract development or eye health? Contact us today to learn more or to ask about our exams.