It never ceases to perplex me how surprised some of my patients are when I tell them they have the beginnings of cataract... especially when they are well over 60. But maybe it's because despite cataract being such a common condition, there are still a lot of myths out there.
Let's debunk some of the more popular ones:
1. Cataract is not a growth you see across the eye, like an opaque skin. A cataract is when the internal lens of the eye behind the pupil gets denser and yellows or goes opaque
2. Everyone gets cataract ...eventually. It's like wrinkles :)
The problem is that your internal lens keeps growing throughout your life and because it can't expand too much, all that extra tissue gets compressed instead. This compression makes your lens stiffer and stiffer- that's why you lose reading vision in your 40s. Eventually the compression tips over into the lens changing color and becoming opaque
3. Cataracts do not need to be "ripe" to be removed. In the past people would wait till their cataracts were really opaque before having surgery. Nowadays surgery is done at an earlier stage as technology has improved. I tell my patients the time to have surgery is when they find they have trouble doing normal daily activities such as driving, reading, watching TV even with their glasses on. Of course, ultimately it's up to each individual but leaving it too long can also make the surgery more difficult.
The take home message is if your vision is changing and glasses no longer help, go and see your optometrist or eye surgeon to see if you have cataracts or something else that needs attention.
And in case you are wondering about the relevance of the photo... the word cataract comes from the Greek word meaning waterfall :)
* Information on this blog is general in nature and should not be taken as professional medical advice or as a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional.