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More 40- and 50-Somethings Are Getting Cataract Surgery: What Gives?

Until she entered her 40s, Leslie Lingle passed her vision tests with flying
colors, seeing 20/20 for years. However, like most people in their 40s,
Leslie found herself relying more and more on reading glasses to get by.
Then something strange happened.

She noticed her vision was getting progressively blurrier, and while watching
T.V. or working at her computer, she found there were little chunks or
pieces she couldn’t make out on the screen.
After a thorough eye exam at Key-Whitman Eye Center, Leslie was shocked to learn she had cataracts.

“When my eye doctor first said ‘I see a cataract growing on
your eye,’ I said no, that can’t be true, at the time I was
only in my late 40s, and immediately all I could think of was my grandmother
was 79 when she had cataract surgery. So, I said, this just can’t
happen to me at this age,” explains Leslie.

“People with cataracts don’t realize what they’re missing
out on.”

After much trepidation and following insight from the team at Key-Whitman, Leslie
opted for traditional cataract surgery. Her only regret is she didn’t have cataract surgery sooner.

Leslie explains why she was pleased with her cataract surgery and why people
shouldn’t put it off.

“I probably let the cataract live for a little longer than it should,
because I was nervous about getting cataract surgery. But everyone at
Key-Whitman seemed to understand what I was going through, and my eye
doctor put my mind at ease,” Leslie says.

According to Key-Whitman
Dallas Ophthalmologist Faisal Haq, M.D., “Younger patients like Leslie are often surprised to learn they
have cataracts. At the same time, the diagnosis brings relief, because
we explain that it isn’t uncommon to get cataracts when you’re
in your 40s and 50s, and we have solutions that are safe, fast and effective.”

So, are people really getting cataracts earlier today?

Despite the occasional news report purporting as much, Dr. Haq isn’t
convinced. As he explains, “What we can say we know for sure is
more cataract surgeries are being performed earlier, and there’s
no reason to wait until you’re significantly impaired to have the
surgery, especially if vision problems are interfering with activities
of daily living (when insurance typically covers the procedure).

The reasons people get cataracts earlier are usually trauma, diabetes,
genetics, or lastly, the use of prednisone or other steroids for various
medical conditions. These factors definitely expedite the formation of
cataracts, but they all have been around for a long time.”

Aside from a rise in the number of vitrectomy surgeries (which are performed
in a very small subset of the population), Dr. Haq hasn’t seen other
compelling evidence to indicate people are getting cataracts at an earlier age.

Instead he believes, “More people are getting cataract surgery earlier, because the risk associated with the cataract procedure has been drastically
reduced as compared to years past, and most people know someone who has
had cataract surgery and raves about the results.”

Most cataracts are easy to fix and shouldn’t slow you down

When a cataract began to affect her daily routine more regularly, especially
at work, Leslie knew she needed to take steps to improve her vision.

“I design training materials, so I’m at my computer all day.
I noticed there would be spots that would be blurry or pieces I couldn’t
see, and I started favoring the one eye that wasn’t exhibiting the
cataract. That’s how I really knew it was impacting me at work,”
Leslie says.

Leslie explains what she loves most about getting cataract surgery and
how her astigmatism was also corrected during surgery.

As an eye doctor who specializes in treating cataracts, Dr. Haq says, “We
regularly see patients with cataracts who are at the point where glare
and blurred vision interfere with activities of daily living. But you
don’t need to put up with cataracts like back in the 70s when surgery
was riskier.

With the leading edge technology we use at Key-Whitman today, cataract
surgery is much less invasive (typically only a 2.5 mm incision is required),
faster and easier to perform. Even more important,
high technology lens implants allow patients to see better really quickly, most patients report its painless, no hospital stay is
required and healing time is much shorter now.”

Along with eliminating blurriness, colors can be more vibrant after cataract surgery

Following Leslie’s procedure, she was astonished after the surgical
patch was removed from her eye. As she explains, “When the patch
came off, I expected the blurriness might be gone, or at least be diminished,
but it was fully gone.

What I didn’t know, was that the colors that I had been
seeing in my cataracts, were so different than the vivid colors that were really out there. You
lose colors incrementally over time, they just kind of fade. So I didn’t
notice the change, and now all of a sudden they are bright again.”

Don’t wait, the earlier you get cataract surgery, the lower the risk

According to Dr. Haq, “In the past, it was actually technically easier
to perform cataract surgery when the cataract was much more advanced,
or what we call ripe, because at that point it was like a pebble and easier
to remove in one piece. Younger cataracts are softer and more gelatinous.

Today, the risk and ease of surgery is reversed. With the ultrasound technique
and lasers we use now, it’s a lot easier to remove the younger,
softer cataracts and correct vision problems like astigmatism.

In fact,
with the femtosecond laser we use, there is even less invasiveness, and we can perform steps now that were
previously done by hand, which is much more reproducible, accurate and
precise. This is an exciting advance that will only evolve and continue
to improve.”

So if you have symptoms that are attributable to cataracts, which are affecting
your activities of daily living, don’t wait. Cataracts can be removed
safely and efficiently, and like Leslie, you could be seeing beautifully
in no time.

Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club

Posted in: Cataract Surgery, Cataracts

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