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Ask the BayCare Clinic Specialist: Cataracts at 50? It’s possible

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Question: My sister was treated for cataracts in her 40s. I’m also in need of cataract treatment. I’m in my 50s. Is this normal?

Answer: While not typical, your situation also is not unusual. A cataract, or clouding of the lens within the eye, is usually associated with aging. By age 80, most Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. On occasion, however, cataracts can appear in younger patients (even babies), due to genetics, disease, long-term use of steroid medications, or eye injury.

Treatment in these cases is often limited to new eyeglasses, brighter lighting or anti-glare sunglasses. If those treatments are unsuccessful, surgery can be performed to replace the clouded lens with a new clear lens or implant. Cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure and has a high success rate.

“Three million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher,” according to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. “Also, a study of more than 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent cataract surgery between 1994 and 2006 found that 99.5 percent of patients had no severe postoperative complications and the risk of severe complications has decreased with advances in surgical tools and techniques.”

Most cataracts form slowly and are noticeable only when they cause:

  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Muted or faded colors
  • Increased sensitivity to glare, especially when driving at night
  • Difficulty with night vision

Unfortunately, there is no clinically-established treatment to prevent or halt the progression of cataracts. But as mentioned earlier, there are surgical options for removing and replacing the clouded lens.

So, while experiencing cataracts in your 40s or 50s may be troubling for you, find solace in the numerous effective treatments that can address your cataracts and benefit your long-term eye health.

BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists offers routine eye care and comprehensive medical and surgical eye services including cataract, glaucoma and tear duct surgery, eye muscle surgery, ophthalmic plastic surgery and eye trauma management, among other services.

Published: Monday, July 27, 2020