Myths and Facts About Cataracts

As your eyes age, the normally clear lens that focuses light behind your iris and pupil becomes yellow and cloudy with dead cells and protein. The cataracts that result are a normal part of aging as your body replaces old and dying cells more slowly. 

More than 50% of Americans 80 and older develop cataracts, but confusion surrounds what they are, why they impair your vision, and what you should do about them. Our expert ophthalmologists at Pacific Eye in San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and Santa Maria, California, clear up a few myths about cataracts to help you take control of your eye health.

Myth: Cataracts grow on your eyes

Fact: Cataracts are not growths. Cataracts don’t grow over your lens or eye. They are permanent changes to your eye’s natural focusing lens. 

As you age, the proteins that make up the lens in your eye start to break down and clump together. The clumped proteins — combined with slower cell turnover in your lens — makes your lens cloudy and yellow, which affects the way you see.

Correcting a cataract involves removing the old, deteriorated lens and replacing it with a synthetic one. Your ophthalmic surgeon chooses the type of synthetic lens based on your individual vision needs.

Myth: You can dissolve cataracts with eye drops

Fact: Cataracts can’t be “dissolved.” 

A cataract isn’t a substance that can be dissolved with any type of eye drop. Cataracts are changes to the structure of your lens that occur as you age. The only way to treat cataracts is to remove the defective lens and replace it with a synthetic lens.

Myth: You can cure cataracts with lifestyle changes

Fact: Lifestyle changes won’t reverse cataracts. 

Once your lens is clouded with old proteins and dead cells, you can’t revive it. Though eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise may help slow the formation of cataracts, they can’t “cure” a lens that’s already deteriorated.

Myth: Only old people develop cataracts

Fact: Some young people have cataracts.

Although cataracts are a disease of aging, you can develop them at a younger age. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can cause changes to your eyes that lead to cataracts. Some babies are born with a type of cataract called congenital cataracts.

Myth: Too much reading or close work causes cataracts

Fact: You can’t create cataracts through habits.

When you have cataracts, you may have trouble reading or doing close work such as sewing or crafts. However, engaging in those types of activities doesn’t cause your lens to degrade. 

Myth: Cataract surgery is dangerous

Fact: Cataract surgery is safe.

Cataract surgery has a 95 percent success rate and is one of the most common and safest surgeries. For a few days after surgery, be sure not to do any heavy lifting or bending.  You may notice an immediate improvement after surgery, or a gradual improvement over several weeks.

Myth: Cataracts grow back after surgery

Fact: Cataracts can’t grow back.

Once your defective lens has been removed, it can’t grow back. Some people develop cloudy vision again because the membrane that holds the new synthetic lens deteriorates with age. However, a 15-minute, in-office laser procedure quickly, safely, and easily resolves that problem. 

Myth: All cataracts should be removed

Fact: You may not need surgery if you still see well.  

If your ophthalmologist finds a cataract during your eye exam, you don’t necessarily need to have surgery. Cataracts develop over many years. As long as you still see well, you can delay surgery or may never need it.

Myth: Cataracts are inevitable  

Fact: Practicing good habits protects your eyes.

While good habits won’t reverse or prevent cataracts, they can preserve the health of your lens. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays damage your lens, just like they damage your skin, so protect your eyes with the shade of a hat and UV-protective sunglasses when you’re outdoors.

A healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits improves your eye health and your overall health. Smoking and drinking to excess dry your skin and eyes, making you more susceptible to developing cataracts. Be sure to get a dilated eye exam every two years when you’re over 60, so cataracts and other potential eye problems can be identified as early as possible.

Call us anytime you experience symptoms such as:

You may need cataract surgery if your vision problems make it hard for you to get through your daily tasks.

To find out if you have cataracts, or need cataract surgery, call our office today or use our convenient online booking tool.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Contacts or Glasses: Which Is the Best Option for You?

If you wear corrective lenses to see clearly, you’re not alone. Some people choose eyeglasses, while others like contact lenses, but the right eyewear for you is a personal choice. Learn more about the benefits of glasses vs. contacts.

Is Laser Eye Surgery Right for You?

Millions of Americans wear glasses or contacts. But if you’re tired of needing corrective lenses to see the world around you, you should consider LASIK. This popular laser eye surgery reshapes your cornea, making your glasses a thing of the past.

How to Beat Your Winter Dry Eye

While dry eye can hit at any time of year, cold winter air and dry indoor heating often make symptoms worse. Don’t let dry, itchy, uncomfortable eyes keep you from enjoying the changing seasons. Use these tips to beat winter dry eye.

Get Your Child Started with Routine Eye Care

Your child’s eyes change as they grow, and that’s why regular eye doctor appointments are just as important as visiting the pediatrician. Getting your child started with routine eye care sets them up for healthy vision and wellness throughout life.

Understanding the Differences in the Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common cause of vision loss, but there are many different ways this disease can affect your eyes. From a stand-alone condition to complications from diabetes or other health issues, learn the differences between the types of glaucoma.

3 Telltale Signs It's an Astigmatism

Astigmatism is one of the most common causes of blurry vision. It changes the way your eye focuses light, but it can be corrected with the right treatment. Don’t settle for blurry vision. Find out more about the telltale signs of astigmatism.