Cataracts affect tens of millions of people worldwide and are the leading cause of vision loss. Cataract surgery is one of the oldest, most perfected and sought after corrective eye surgery known in ophthalmology, yet several myths and misconceptions still surround the topic. Below are the 5 most popular misconceptions about cataract that we’ll be dispelling.
#1 Cataracts can only happen to old people
While it is true that cataracts are most common among people over 65 years of age, younger people and even small children can develop cataracts due to trauma or conditions like diabetes or taking certain medications or having other eye-related problems. Cataracts can even be present at birth in some cases, this condition is called congenital cataracts.
#2 Cataracts can spread from one eye to the other
Cataracts are not caused by germs that can pass from one eye to the other, therefore it is not true that cataracts can spread from eye to eye. Cataracts form in each eye separately, though both eyes may have cataracts at the same time. There are some cases where secondary cataracts can occur on the membrane that holds the newly implanted lens in place, but this is not caused by „spreading” and this phenomenon is rare and can be easily and quickly treated with a 15 minute laser surgery.
#3 Cataracts “grow” on top of the eye
Contrary to popular belief, a cataract is not a “growth” that sits on top of the eye. If they were, then the required treatment would be quite different from lens replacement.
Cataracts are actually a part of the lens itself, they develop as the lens’s cells die and accumulate.
#4 Cataracts can be removed with lasers
Lasers cannot be used to “remove” cataracts, the procedure called laser-assisted cataract surgery utilizes a laser to make the incisions, but surgery itself is about breaking up, removing and replacing the natural lens of the eye in order to restore vision. The femtosecond laser used in advanced laser assisted cataract surgery doesn’t „remove” the cataracts, it is used as a tool to assist in removing the entire lens of the eye that has developed the cataract within the actual properties of the natural lens.
#5 Cataracts get worse if you strain your eyes
The formation of cataracts are not related to the use and the strain of the eye. They are a buildup of protein in the lens. Several things can cause cataracts to develop: other eye-related illnesses, trauma, taking certain medications, smoking, having diabetes. You can’t develop a cataract, or make an existing cataract worse, by doing these tasks, however it is likely that you will notice a cataract because of doing close-up tasks, since one of the signs of cataracts is requiring a lot more light to read, to sew, etc.
Dr. Shobha Tandon, the Stanford trained MD of NeoVision Eye Center specializes in Advanced Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery. Schedule an appointment if you have any questions about cataracts.