By the time they reach their mid-70s, about half of all American adults have developed cataracts. They are caused by a breakdown of proteins in the eye’s lens. The outstanding eye doctors at St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute work with many cataract patients, as well as plenty of people who are concerned that they may get cataracts. In this blog, they discuss when the average patient should start thinking about cataracts.
Cataracts Can Start at Any Point
Although most patients do not develop cataracts until they are senior citizens, it is possible for cataracts to start appearing in a person’s 20s, 30s or 40s. While rare, some babies are even born with cataracts. Those who are diagnosed with cataracts before 60 are said to have “early onset cataracts.” If cataracts significantly diminish vision, surgery may be appropriate at an early age.
Risk factors for early onset cataracts include:
- Family history
- Ocular injury
- Excessive UV ray exposure (yet another reason to wear sunglasses)
Cataracts Begin Earlier Than You Expect
Cataracts generally develop over the span of decades. The eye’s lens loses its strength around age 40, which is when the proteins begin to break down and clump together. Only after many years does vision become hazier. While a comprehensive eye exam may be able to diagnose cataracts before the symptoms are noticeable, most people have no clue that they have cataracts until after the age of 60 when their vision is significantly impaired.
When You Should Start Worrying about Cataracts
Now, let’s return to this blog’s original question: When should you start worrying about cataracts? Currently, doctors and scientists have not found a way to prevent cataracts. Doctors can offer treatments that slow the progression of many types of eye disease, but that does not apply to cataracts. In that sense, you do not need to “panic” that you are not doing enough to stop cataracts. The best action is to undergo regular eye exams that can identify the presence of cataracts before they become problematic.
Another reason not to worry is that cataract surgery is safe, easy, and effective. It is one of the most performed surgeries in the U.S. By replacing the eye’s clouded lens with an IOL (intraocular lens), clear vision is quickly restored. Even better, the complication rate is low and cataracts cannot redevelop on an IOL.
Meet with Our Cataract Specialists
Rather than dreading an eye condition as common as cataracts, pledge to be proactive if and when cataracts start to downgrade your sight — no matter your age. Our skilled ophthalmologists are ready to perform cataract surgery to restore crisp vision. To make an appointment at St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute, please call (727) 585-2200.