Age-related cataracts are somewhat of a misnomer these days because cataracts can develop at any age. Just like the development of wrinkles, the age at which you develop cataracts depends on many factors ranging from genetics to lifestyle habits.
The prevalence of cataracts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cataracts affect one in every six Americans over the age of 40. This seems like an extremely large number, but many men and women may be completely unaware that they have a developing cataract. Over half of all Americans have cataracts by age 70, and the percentage continues to increase with age. Often, a cataract is detected during a comprehensive eye exam, but it could be years before it begins affecting vision.
Why people are developing cataracts at a younger age?
Although genetics plays a role in cataract development, environmental factors such as UV exposure and free radical damage can greatly influence when your vision is affected by cataracts. Not wearing sunglasses increases your risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age. Antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and eggs help to neutralize free radicals that can damage eye tissues, so an unhealthy diet can make your eyes vulnerable to cataracts as well.
New and improved cataract removal
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safe surgeries performed today. In the past, cataract surgery was delayed as long as possible and reserved for elderly patients. It was much more like an operation, requiring hospitalization and immobility for several days. Today, cataract surgery can be an outpatient procedure performed at an ambulatory surgery center, and most patients may resume their normal activities rapidly. Thanks to technological advancement, we have the advantage of earlier detection, customized intraocular lenses (IOLs) and a variety of treatment options. Many monofocal IOLs are now covered under private insurance and Medicare, making cataract surgery more accessible than ever before.
Talk to your eye care professional
Regardless of your age, there is no reason to delay cataract surgery. In fact, choosing cataract surgery at an earlier age means that you will can enjoy clear, crisp vision right now. Your eye care professional can help you choose a lens that fits your needs and level of activity. Make an appointment today for a comprehensive eye exam and an informative discussion about cataract treatment options.