Seeing Better Than You Have Before

4 Little-Known Cataract Facts

by Linda Bates

Practically everyone has heard of cataracts: cataract is the scientific name for the clouding of an eye's lens. Cataracts affect vision, but thankfully don't cause pain. While it's a well-known condition, there are many little-known facts about cataracts that most people don't know about. Here are four pieces of information about cataracts you may not have known.

There's More Than One Kind

If you think that cataracts are a disorder that mostly occurs when people get older, you're right. However, age-related cataracts aren't the only kind of cataract! Cataracts may be caused by three other things, as well: congenital problems, diseases, or trauma.

Congenital cataracts occur when a child's body undergoes an injury or developmental problem either while they're in the womb or in very early childhood.

Disease-induced cataracts may be caused by an illness that the person has, like diabetes, or by the medication that they're taking to treat their illness.

Finally, trauma-induced cataracts are the result of damage to the eye or lens itself. These cataracts are especially common after a blow to the face or head, like in a car accident. 

Scientists Aren't Sure Of The Cause

While scientists know that half of all people between 65 and 75 will develop cataracts, they're not entirely sure why. Not everyone develops cataracts, but many people do. It's possible that there's a genetic factor that increases the likelihood of developing cataracts, but scientists just don't know yet. Since the cause is unknown, there's no known way to prevent age-related cataracts.

Cataract Surgery Is The Most-Performed Surgery In the U.S.

Cataract surgery is an extremely safe procedure, and is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States. It's usually performed as an out-patient procedure, requires no stitches, and recovery is generally painless. Fewer than 10 out of every 100 patients have any sort of complications from the surgery, whether it's for early-stage or late-stage cataracts.

Surgery May Not Be Necessary

While cataract surgery is quick, safe, and can restore vision, it isn't absolutely necessary for all people with cataracts to have surgery. If your cataracts are mild and only slightly affecting your vision, changing the prescription on your glasses or contact lenses may be enough to compensate. Age-related cataracts may take many years to develop to the point where vision is seriously impaired, so don't panic if your eye doctor tells you that you're starting to develop cataracts.

While it would be nice to know why people develop age-related cataracts, the good news is that regardless of the variety of cataract, doctors can easily repair the problem and restore your vision. If your vision has recently changed or you think you may have cataracts, you should see an eye doctor right away.

To learn more, contact a optometrist office like Northwest Ophthalmology