According to the non-profit organization Prevent Blindness America, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. In the United States, 70% of people who reach the age of seventy-five will have cataracts.
With cataracts affecting more than 22 million adults in the United States, there are more cases of cataracts than there are of macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy combined. This startling fact makes cataracts the leading cause of blindness in the world.
Cataracts are formed when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. This blurs or dims the vision because light doesn’t properly pass through to the retina. Eye care professionals urge everyone over the age of 40 to get a dilated, baseline eye exam. A family history of cataracts, smoking, diabetes and serious eye injury are all risk factors contributing to the development of cataracts.
The adage, “have cataract surgery when it are ripe” is a 30 year-old concept that is no longer appropriate with modern surgical techniques. The appropriate time for cataract surgery is when vision is blurred or uncomfortable, even with glasses. Legal driving vision – often 20/40 or better, is often a good time to discuss cataract surgery with your eye surgeon.
Keep in mind that most high volume cataract surgeons (200-1000 surgeries per year) will more willing to discuss surgery at an earlier stage than low-volume surgeons (20-100 surgeries per year). Furthermore, it is not uncommon for ophthalmologists who no longer operate to put off sending you to a different ophthalmologist who does operate, for fear of losing you as a patient. *