Cataracts are one of the most common vision problems throughout the world. You most likely know, or will know, at least one person with cataracts in the course of your lifetime. While the condition is relatively prevalent, there are a lot of myths and old wives’ tales that circulate about cataracts, diluting the information available from both doctors and online. At OCLI, we want to help debunk four major myths and make sure that you have the true facts about cataracts and their characteristics.
Myth: Cataracts “grow” on top of the eye’s surface.
Fact: A cataract is a clouding of the lens, which is located inside of the eye. The lens is the clear part of the eye on top of the retina that helps to focus light, or an image. In normal eyes, light passes through this clear lens to the retina, where it is changed into nerve signals to communicate with the brain. When a cataract is present, the cloudiness of this lens causes the image to appear blurred due to the unclear messages being sent to the brain.
As a condition that affects the lens, cataracts, in fact, occur inside of the eye as opposed to “growing” on top of it.
Myth: Cataracts can be lifted from the eye with lasers.
Fact: Similar to the idea that a cataract can “grow” on top of the eyes surface, many people believe that these growths can simply be removed from the surface of the eye. Because cataracts occur within the lens of the eye, as debunked previously, it is not possible to physically remove the cataract in one piece. In laser cataract surgery, the laser first softens up the cataract and than a probe is used to break up and remove the cataract which is replaced with a new lens implant to restore clear vision.
Myth: Cataract surgery is dangerous.
Fact: As with any medical procedure regardless of how routinely it is performed, there are risks and possible complications involved. Before undergoing any type of surgery, you should discuss your medical history with your doctor to determine whether or not the procedure will work for you. Cataract surgery is, in fact, one of the most common operations performed, with nearly 98% being completed free of complications or serious side effects. Nevertheless, possible risks include bleeding, infection or retinal detachment.
Myth: There are ways to reverse cataracts once they occur.
Fact: The clouding of the lens is a natural part of the aging process for a large percentage of the population. Cataracts can occur regardless of age, but they are most commonly seen in patients aged 65 or older. While the clouding tends to happen along with aging, living an overall healthy lifestyle can slow or prevent their development. This includes eating a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, avoiding cigarettes and wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Once cataracts occur, however, they cannot be “reversed,” only treated.
If you are considering cataract surgery, Dr. Silverman and the OCLI team can help find the best solution for you. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!