Growing older means inevitable changes in your body, and you often have a clear vision of how to deal with those changes. You work out to reduce heart disease risks, eat foods that meet your changing nutritional needs, and rely on corrective lenses to help mitigate age-related vision changes.
But are you aware of your chances of developing cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision – that naturally develop as you age? Or that, once cataracts develop, leaving them untreated could ultimately rob you of your eyesight? If you’re not clear on how cataracts could affect your life, or what the treatment options for them are, you’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Alcon of more than 1,000 adults aged 60 and over who have been diagnosed but not treated for cataracts, only 25 percent of respondents said they have a full understanding of the condition.
“According to Prevent Blindness, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, yet so many people who have been diagnosed do not have an understanding of cataracts and treatment options,” says Dr. Edward Holland, director of cornea services at Cincinnati Eye Institute. Dr. Holland has partnered with Alcon, the global leader in eye care and a division of Novartis, as part of the Know Your Cataract EYE-Q awareness campaign, to help educate Americans on this vision impairment.
While you can test your own Cataract EYE-Q by visiting www.CataractEYEQ.com, Dr. Holland offers some information to debunk a few additional myths.
Myth 1: Cataracts are a rare condition.
Truth: Millions of people older than 60 have cataracts. Prevent Blindness also notes that by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have cataracts or have had them removed. Even with the high prevalence of cataracts, the recent Alcon survey showed only 25 percent of respondents say they have a full understanding of the condition.
Myth 2: Cataracts are preventable.
Truth: While nearly half (45 percent) of respondents in the Alcon survey did not know that this is the case, cataracts are not preventable.
Myth 3: Other vision conditions cannot be corrected during cataract surgery.
Truth: Other vision conditions can be corrected during cataract surgery. In fact, in the recent survey, three in four (75 percent) respondents did not realize the surgery can also correct other vision conditions, like astigmatism, a common, treatable imperfection in the curvature of the eye causing blurred vision. During cataract surgery, the natural lens in your eye is replaced with an artificial lens or intraocular lens (IOL). Some patients may benefit from advanced IOLs that can address other vision conditions, like astigmatism, and potentially reduced dependency on glasses.
Myth 4: If you can see just fine, you’re not going to get cataracts.
Truth: Because cataracts develop slowly over time, it’s possible to not realize you have them until they really begin to impair your vision. Watch for symptoms such as difficulty seeing well at night and especially when trying to drive at night, cloudy vision, halos around lights, double vision in one eye, light sensitivity and colors appearing faded.
Myth 5: Cataract surgery is dangerous and painful.
Truth: Even though 38 percent of the people surveyed by Alcon said they were more afraid of undergoing eye surgery than any other kind of surgical procedure, cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed and safest procedures performed each year, with little recovery time or inconvenience to patients’ daily activities.
“Of all the surgeries available to us as we age, cataract surgery is one of the few that truly allows patients to turn back time and reclaim their vision in ways they never thought possible,” says Dr. Holland.