New projections from Prevent Blindness estimate that the number of people developing cataracts will continue to rise in coming years.
Cataracts are responsible for over half of the world’s blindness, and there are estimated to be more than 25 million people with cataracts in the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, estimates also predict that the number will rise to about 38.5 million in 2032 and then increase even more to 45.6 million by 2050.
Those are stark numbers, and they illustrate the need for more information about cataracts and access to cataract surgery.
What Causes Cataracts?
Nearly all cataracts, about 95%, are age-related cataracts. They generally appear after 40, and there isn’t any way to prevent them entirely. However, leading a healthy and active lifestyle and protecting your eyes from UV rays can play a part in reducing your risk for cataracts. In particular, eating foods that are high in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, along with Vitamins C and E and Omega-3 fatty acids is thought to help prevent cataracts.
But there are other types of cataracts that aren’t related to aging. Congenital cataracts are present at birth, and may be genetic. Trauma to the eye, exposure to some kinds of radiation, and other infections or diseases can also cause cataracts to form.
What Are Your Options?
So what’s the good news here? Even though the rate of cataracts is continuing to rise, cataract surgery has never been more safe and effective. In fact, 90% of people who have had cataract surgery showed improved vision afterward.
And the procedure itself is relatively simple. Cataracts form when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud. This in turn blocks the natural passage of light through your eye, reducing the quality of vision. If left untreated, this can progress until the person is blind.
Cataract surgery uses ultrasound to break up the cataract. The pieces are then removed, and a new, artificial lens is placed in the eye, restoring proper vision. Over two million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the United States, and the success rate is extremely high.
Advances in technology have also provided for multiple types of lenses, known as intraocular lenses (IOLs). One type of IOL can correct presbyopia, or age-related nearsightedness, making it ideal for older patients who are suffering from both cataracts and presbyopia. Another IOL is designed to help protect your eyes from UV rays and blue light rays.
When Should You Get Cataract Surgery?
Deciding to get cataract surgery will depend on how much they affect your everyday life. Can you see properly at nighttime? Do you feel like everyday activities are made more difficult because of the changes in your vision? If you don’t like the answers to those questions, then it may be time for cataract surgery.
So even though the rise in cataracts may be bad news, there’s still a safe and effective way to rid yourself of them and improve your vision.
If you think you might be getting cataracts, don’t wait for them to get any worse. Make an appointment to have your eyes checked. And if you live in the New Jersey area, then contact OCLI today to set up an appointment.