August Is Cataract Awareness Month

August Is Cataract Awareness MonthDid you know…

  • More than half of all Americans will develop cataracts by age 80.
  • Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the United States, with more than 1.5 million procedures performed each year.

In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, let’s look at some of the fictions and facts surrounding this common condition.

Fiction: Cataracts are caused when a film grows on the eye’s surface, causing double or blurred images.

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Fact: A cataract does not form on the eye, but rather within it. A cataract is a clouding or opacity of the eye’s lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear sharp images.

Fiction: “Overusing” your eyes will cause cataracts.

Fact: Cataracts are not made worse by close work such as reading, sewing, watching movies, or looking at television.

Fiction: You can “catch” a cataract from someone who has one.

Fact: Cataracts are not contagious.

Fiction: Cataracts are caused solely by old age.

Fact: Although most common in people over 60, cataracts can occur at any age. When cataracts occur in younger patients, they are usually caused by a chronic medical condition, eye trauma, or certain prescription drugs. Fetal exposure to infection, radiation, steroids, alcohol, and other substances of abuse during pregnancy are risk factors for congenital cataracts.

For adults, risk factors may include smoking, steroid use, and deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. Prolonged exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB), is a definite risk factor for cataracts. Medical conditions such as diabetes, myotonic dystrophy, or Wilson’s disease increase the risk for cataracts, regardless of age. Women and African-Americans are at increased risk.

Fiction: Cataracts are painful and always lead to blindness.

Fact: Cataracts form slowly and cause no pain. For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging. Though they may lead to blindness when left untreated, “new techniques developed over the past decade have made cataract surgery one of the most successful procedures available in terms of restoring quality of life to patients,” according to Dr. Steven Unterman of Mid-America Eye Center.

Fiction: A cataract has to be “ripe” before it is removed.

Fact: Cataracts can take from a few months to several years to develop. Sometimes the cataract stops developing in its early stages, and vision is only slightly decreased. But if it continues to develop, vision is impaired, and treatment is necessary.

The best time to have a cataract removed is when it starts to interfere with your quality of life. Symptoms of cataracts include blurred, cloudy, filmy, or fuzzy vision; distorted images or double vision in either eye; a fading or yellowing of colors; sensitivity to light and glare, especially while driving at night; and frequent changes in your eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.

You and your ophthalmologist should determine together when cataract surgery is right for you.

Fiction: Cataracts are removed using lasers.

Fact: The diseased tissue is replaced with an artificial device known as an intraocular lens implant. Cataract surgery is most often done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. The patient generally goes home the same day, and because the incision is so small, many patients don’t even need stitches.

However, months or years after the cataract is removed, a thin membrane may develop behind the implant that needs to be opened with a laser. The procedure is quite common and may be one reason why some patients mistakenly believe that cataracts are removed with a laser.

Fiction: Cataracts can “grow back” after surgery.

Fact: This is the best news… Cataracts do not grow back, and most patients experience clearer vision right after surgery.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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7 responses to “August Is Cataract Awareness Month”

  1. Avatar for Dinesh Kumar Dinesh Kumar says:

    i like ur posts.
    And I m a big fan of You .
    Can u help me.
    I m twenty one years old and i use contact lenses since 4 years .
    my no is -3.5 .i m nearsighted.

    Is it possible that my eye sight turn into
    6/6 or -0.5 to 0.75 without lasik ?

  2. Avatar for Joe Joe says:

    Enjoyed this article very much. I need surgery and have been dreading it.

    I have cataracts and it is time to get my drivers licenses renewed. I fear that I will not pass the eye test to get my licenses. I am nearsighted and have improved my vision some by doing exercise but not nearly enough. My question: Will I be able to continue the exercises?

  3. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Joe,

    When you visit your doctor who is preforming the surgery, ask them if it’s OK to continue with eye exercises. They will know best and be able to answer your specific question as every individual is different.

    To your vision — for life,


  4. Avatar for Gobind Gobind says:

    hello sir….m 22 yr old and have -5.25 no. in both eyes from last 10 years. I recently visited my doctor for lasik bt come to know that i have minor contaract in both eyes. my dr. suggested me surgery bt also told me that i can wait…
    5 years back i was normal (no contaract).
    when i told this to doc. they given me “softgel capsuls of graded seed extract, Lycopyn, lutien vitamin & mineral” Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose(0.3%) with N-Acetyl Carnosine(1.0%) Eye drop for two months…
    m very nurvious and disappointed. I dont want to go for surgery in this age. plz. sir suggest me what should i do..?
    ..can i remove contaract…?..plz. sir do smthing..I hope u will surely help me..

  5. Avatar for s.Jayakumar s.Jayakumar says:

    Dear Sir,
    I got cataract surgery done for my two eyes and I am fit and fine. Regards jayakumar

  6. Avatar for Kathi Kathi says:

    Good morning. I recently had cataract surgery and the doctor put lenses in my eyes. I was able to read without glasses before the surgery and now have to use readers (I am NOT happy). I always had an astigmatism and it did not bother me. I wore glasses on and off for all of my life (I am now 67), but about 5 or 6 years ago I realized while I was at work, that I couldn’t see the computer screen correctly and the printed word was really making me irritable. I took my glasses off and found I could read anything I wanted (even very fine print) without my glasses. I was thrilled! Then, about a year ago, it started getting REAL difficult to drive after dark and driving in the city when it was raining was not a great idea. I could not see the road from the glare of the traffic lights. I gave up and had the evaluation which was significant (whatever that means) cataracts. Not willing to give up my ability to read and sew and whatever without glasses, I put off the surgery until the cataracts seriously impacted my driving (even in daylight) ability. I had the surgery done (using laser) and while I’m pleased that driving (day or night and actually seeing colors and leaves and such and seeing without everything looking like I was in smog), I am seriously unhappy about needing readers. Will the eye vitamins (or anything for that matter) help so that I don’t have to rely on readers? This is REALLY bothering me (in case you can’t tell. Thanks. Kathi

  7. Avatar for Louise Piso Louise Piso says:

    I was told I need to have a cataract operation I’m very afraid – I don’t feel like I heal well being a diabetic – can you give me any words of advice? Thank you in advance. Louise

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