Three Things Patients Should Know About Cataracts

August 29, 2018

The United States has an ageing population; millions of Baby Boomers are turning 65 yearly. This will continue for some years to come. Along with the gift of growing older comes the multitude of changes in our bodies. As an ophthalmologist, I help people every day with a variety of visual problems that are mostly age related. The most frequent condition is the development of cataracts. Many of my patients tell me that they do not really understand what cataracts are and how they change your vision.

Approximately 25 million Americans have cataracts, which causes cloudy, blurry or dim vision and frequently develop with advancing age. Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in sharing three things everyone should know about cataracts and their treatment.

As everyone grows older, the lenses of their eyes thicken, and the lens cells become cloudier. Eventually, they may find it more difficult to read street signs. Colors may seem dull. These symptoms may signal cataracts, which affect about 70 percent of people by age 75. Fortunately, surgery is very successful for treating cataracts. Ophthalmologists, physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care, perform around three million cataract surgeries each year to restore vision to those patients. The following are facts people should know about the condition.


  • Age isn't the only risk factor for cataracts - Though most everyone will develop cataracts with age, recent studies show that lifestyle and behavior can influence when and how severely you develop cataracts. Diabetes, extensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and certain ethnicities are linked to increased risk of cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and long-term use of steroid medication can also result in cataracts. If you have any of these or other risk factors, talk to an ophthalmologist.
  • Cataracts cannot be prevented and there are no "miracle cures", but you can lower your risk - You can wear UV-blocking sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats when outside to protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Several studies also suggest that eating more vitamin C-rich foods may delay how fast cataracts form. Avoid smoking, cigarettes increase the risk of cataract development.
  • Surgery may help improve more than just your vision - During the procedure, the natural clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL, which should improve your vision significantly. Patients have a variety of lenses to choose from, each with different benefits. Studies have shown that cataract surgery can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of falling. If cataracts are interfering with your ability to see well, consider asking your ophthalmologist about cataract surgery.


Cataract surgery can be a life changing event. At age 49, Michael Sargent's vision had become so impaired by cataracts that he couldn't distinguish shapes or colors without his glasses on, even if objects were right in front of him. His ophthalmologist recommended cataract surgery.

"Having the surgery was life-changing," said Sargent, who lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. "I can see everything from the time on my alarm clock to a bird's nest in a tree hundreds of feet away without glasses. It's the most amazing experience I've ever had."

If you or someone you know might be suffering poor vision due to cataracts, reach out to Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive today to schedule an evaluation.  

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E. Glenn Sanford, MD, Mercy

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