The Surprising Benefits of Cataract Surgery
We’ve all experienced or known someone who has experienced blurry or darkened vision at some point or another, but would it surprise you to know that 24 million Americans have actual cataracts causing it?
Cataracts sound like a death sentence to your eyes, but there are little-known new benefits of cataract surgery, including decreasing your risk of an early death. This article will explain what cataracts are, how to treat and prevent them, and finally, what cataract surgery can do for you or someone you love.
1. What Are Cataracts?
First, let’s look at what the lens in the eye actually does.
The lens changes its shape in the eye, allowing images to be projected to the brain in clear focus and bright colors, no matter how far away the images are.
Cataracts are the clouding and deterioration of the lens, which leads to the following symptoms:
- Fuzzy Vision
- Poor Night Vision
- Colors appearing less vibrant and distinguishable
- Sensitivity to glare
If cataracts go untreated, they can lead to blindness.
2. Who Gets Cataracts?
Typically, people start to develop cataracts after the age of 60, however, cataracts are the most common vision problem after the age of 40.
Many individuals who have cataracts are unaware of how severely their vision is impacted and how badly their eyes are deteriorating. When vision changes slowly over time it can be hard to notice a significant loss.
Risk factors for developing cataracts are:
- Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UV rays, often from the sun)
- High Blood Pressure
- Corticosteroid Use
- Severe Nearsightedness
- Eye Injuries
- Eye Inflammation
- Family History of Cataracts
3. How Do You Prevent Cataracts?
Now that we’ve established how prevalent cataracts are, how can you reduce your risk?
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Use sunglasses that block all UV rays (many sunglasses don’t block UV rays at all!)
- Eat plenty of Vitamin E (almonds, spinach, avocado, sweet potato, butternut squash, sunflower seeds, and trout)
- Have lots of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your diet (tofu, spinach, navy beans, anchovies, walnuts, eggs, and wild rice)
- Eat foods with Carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin (cantaloupe, corn, carrots, eggs, fish, pasta, peppers, and salmon. Yes, the orange and yellow foods are good for the eyes!)
4. What Is Cataract Surgery?
It’s important to note that while surgery sounds like a severe treatment, there are no medications for cataracts. Cataract surgeries also have a 95% success rate according to the Prevent Blindness Organization.
The goal of cataract surgery is to remove the clouded, damaged lens from the eye and replace it with a manufactured lens. Cataracts are not removed from both eyes at the same time but on two separate occasions if both lenses are damaged.
When cataract surgery was originally performed, it was a pretty serious treatment. Patients were anesthetized and had to be hospitalized after the procedure.
With the development of new technology like a Catalys, cataract surgery is much simpler and easier. Doctors are now able to create a map of the eye to guide the surgery. Surgeons make a small incision and use a laser to break the cataract into small pieces, which are suctioned out of the eye.
Cataracts are most easily removed before they become too thick; waiting too long can make the surgery more difficult. This means there is a window in which cataract surgery will be easier to perform and to recover from.
Complications of cataract surgery include bleeding, inflammation, infection, double vision, and retinal detachment, but these occur in less than 5% of people who have their cataracts removed.
Typically, patients leave the doctor’s office after a thirty-minute recovery period.
After the surgery, you should not drive in the next 24 hours, and be careful not to over-exert yourself during the next week. Most doctors prescribe antibiotic eye-drops and advise using an eye patch overnight to prevent too much pressure being applied to the eye. The patient’s head should also not be submerged under water.
You will not see perfectly as soon as your cataract is replaced, so don’t plan to go bird watching right after your surgery. Vision improves slowly over weeks and months after the cataract replacement. After that time period though, vision is significantly better than before the surgery.
5. What Are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?
As technology improves, the benefits of cataract surgery also increase. Patients are now able to select what type of artificial lens they want inserted into their eyes. These lenses can correct other vision issues like astigmatisms, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
A recent study has also highlighted a few newly discovered benefits of cataract surgery. The study was conducted over 20 years with 74, 044 female participants who had cataracts. 41,735 of these women had cataract surgery, and 60% decreased their risk of death compared to the women who did not have the surgery.
Even though the women in this study were originally more sickly, after the surgery they were less likely to die of cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and infectious diseases, as well as cancer and accidents than women who did not have their cataracts removed.
Dr. Coleman explained the benefits of cataract surgery to the New York Times by saying, “Not only can cataract surgery give people a better life while they’re living it, they can also live more of it.”
This procedure allows people to enjoy the beauty of the world around them as well as being better able to function within it.
Why does cataract surgery seem to extend people’s lives? According to Dr. Coleman: “They can also move more and get more exercise. They can see their pills better and may be more likely to take them and take the right ones. The surgery also improves visual contrast, which decreases the risk of accidental deaths from falls or driving. It’s important to get the best vision a person can have.”
It’s clear that the removal of cataracts allows people to increase the quality of their lives through making healthier choices and reducing their likelihood of accidents.
These new findings are definitely worth considering when deciding whether or not cataract surgery is right for you.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of cataract surgery? Contact the doctors at TriState Centers for Sight.