I’m Too Young to Have Cataracts

“Doctor, my eyes. Tell me what is wrong. Doctor, my eyes. Tell me what you see.” (Jackson Browne). If cataracts are the unfortunate answer, then Mann Eye Institute can come to your rescue.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens, which lies behind the iris and pupil. Although the exact cause is unclear, cataracts are a vision thief for sure, and in most cases occur in people age 60 and over. By age 80, more than half of all Americans will have cataracts and it is the leading cause of blindness in adults (Prevent Blindness America).

What if your eyes have not seen the years? For whatever reason, cases of cataracts in young people are on the record. Cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and over, or one in every six people in this age range.

But many young people may be unaware that they have a developing cataract. At first, a cataract starts out small, with little effect on vision. The first signs of a problem are increased difficulty seeing colors as bright as intended, driving at night with oncoming headlights causing unwanted glare, and generally hazy vision. The type of cataract you have will determine what symptoms you experience and when. Three common types of cataracts include:

  • Subcapsular—occurs at the back of the lens
  • Nuclear—forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens
  • Cortical—wedges its way in the periphery of the lens and migrates to the center in a spoke-like fashion

Causes of Cataracts

No one knows for sure why the eye’s lens changes as we age, but researchers have identified factors that may cause cataracts:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • High myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Oxidative changes in the lens due to poor diet
  • Previous eye injury
  • Significant alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Ultraviolet light exposure
  • Use of steroidal medications

Researchers have also theorized about early onset of cataracts, pointing to the prolonged use of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices as a possible cause for the development of these and other vision problems.

Treatment of Cataracts

While medications, healthy dietary and lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of cataracts, the only treatment for cataracts is surgery. The good news? More than 3.6 million men and women undergo cataract surgery every year, making the procedure one of the most routine and most successful in the U.S. today (Review of Ophthalmology).

The majority of patients say that cataract surgery is a simple, virtually painless procedure that offers great opportunity in restoring vision. Often, patients are able to see the world again without dependence on glasses or contacts.

During cataract surgery, your surgeon will make a tiny incision in your eye to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens. The new lens can’t be seen or felt and stays permanently inside the eye. Recovery time is fast, and thanks to advances in technology, most patients can return to normal activities within 24 to 48 hours of their procedure.

Houston cataract surgeons at Mann Eye Institute are pleased to offer several proprietary Active Life Lens™ laser technologies that can correct your cataracts AND get you out of your glasses or bifocals. In other words, you can now see clearly through the years! Active Life Lenses restore your vision to a greater degree, for instance correcting astigmatism and providing sharp vision at far, intermediate and near distances.

Mann Eye Institute customizes each procedure to your individual vision needs and lifestyle. Our team of expert surgeons and staff are dedicated to helping you See Life Better. Consult with us today and we can discuss and assess your specific needs for cataract surgery at any age.

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