How to Avoid Cataracts
by Dan Siapco MD
My retired partner and founder of Cascadia Eye, Nannette Crowell, always told her patients, “You will get cataracts if you live long enough.” Cataracts are a part of the aging process. You may find yourself with an operable cataract at an early age or, if you are an average American, at about 73 years old. Cataracts typically begin developing in your mid to late 40’s. Most develop slowly and do not cause noticeable visual symptoms until a person in well into their 70’s although exceptions are not uncommon.
How do Cataracts Develop?
Cataracts develop when the proteins in your natural crystalline lens become cloudy. This occurs for multiple reasons. UV light, medications, health conditions (i.e. diabetes), and trauma are the more commonly seen. These opacities in the lens cause light to scatter and inhibit sharp focusing of the light rays on the retina, reducing the quality of vision. This is commonly experienced as glare and halos at night, difficulty reading smaller print even with glasses on, and difficulty with the activities of daily living.
How do I Avoid Cataracts?
But you want to learn how to avoid cataracts? The truth is that cataracts are not preventable, although you can delay the onset or slow their progression. This is done by protecting your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses, eating your fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking, and taking care of health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
What is your motivation for avoiding cataracts? Some might say the surgery. Believe it or not, cataract surgery today is simple, has an extremely low risk profile, and boasts excellent outcomes. It is performed as an outpatient procedure with mild sedation and people are back to their normal lives within days. Unfortunately, you have to live through the stages of cataract formation and also experience the slow degradation of your vision until it’s “medically necessary” to consider cataract surgery. This means living with subpar vision until you have the cataract removed. This is a very common approach that many people take and there is certainly nothing wrong with it.
The Surest Way to Avoid Cataracts…
This leads us to the ONLY way to be 100% sure you will not get cataracts. Consider RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange). Cataracts aside, as we age our natural lenses become harder and less flexible, eliminating our ability to focus on things up close. This is when we start needing reading glasses or a multifocal (progressive) lens. Most people start this process around age 40 and are solidly dependent on their glasses by their early to mid-fifties. With RLE surgery, you can proactively replace your natural lens with a custom lens that restores your full range of vision and because that natural lens has been “upgraded” you will never get cataracts!
Contact Cascadia Eye
If you would like to learn more, or if you would like to schedule an appointment or consultation with our talented doctors at Cascadia Eye, please contact us today or use our online scheduler. Our entire team is committed to protecting and improving your vision and the health of your eyes. We are happy to answer any questions you might have!
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