“Can cataracts be reversed?” This is one of the most common questions ophthalmologists get asked by patients.
The progression of cataracts is largely related to age. So what about a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle? Can they help to slow the progression of age-related cataracts?
Let’s take a look
Can Cataracts Be Reversed? Eye Doctor Explains
Cataracts can be cured, but they can not be reversed. Cataracts are simply a sign that the body is getting older.
The most common type of cataract formation is that related to age. Just like humans can not reverse aging, it is also impossible to reverse cataracts since they are (in most cases) a sign of aging and getting older.
Can Cataract Progression Be Slowed Down?
Many patients wonder, “If a cataract can not be reversed, can its progression at least be slowed down?” No, not really.
If the cataract or clouded lens is an age related one, it is going to progress no matter what. This is because just as the human body ages, the lens of the eye will age too.
If a cataract is due to something like trauma, then the insult and injury to the eye have already occurred. In this situation, the damage has been done and the cataract may develop in the years that follow.
In general, there is nothing that a person can do to slow the progression of their cataract. Of course living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet is good for patients no matter what.
However, there are no studies that have scientific evidence to prove that specific lifestyle choices can slow down an age related cataract.
How Fast Will My Cataract Progress?
This is another commonly asked question by patients. The answer is that eye doctors can not predict this with any accuracy. The effects of cataracts varies in different people. What we do know that over a long period of time, all cataracts will progress no matter what.
How much or how fast a cataract progresses is really very unique and individual. For some patients one cataract may progress faster than the cataract in the other eye. For other patients both eyes may progress at the same time. Some patients may live over a decade with a cataract that is not causing cloudy vision. In other patients, vision problems from their cataract may develop over a year’s time.
How Will You Know When Your Cataract Is Ready For Surgery?
Cataracts can have a number of symptoms. The most common symptom of visually significant cataracts is having blurry vision.
Can new glasses help with cataracts? sometimes…
Early-stage cataracts may not have blurry vision, but just a chance in a person’s prescription. The development of cataracts can cause a myopic shift in a patient’s eye prescription. This means that a patient’s prescription can get more negative. Once the patient is fitted for the new prescription, they are able to see clearly again.
What if new glasses do not help?
When the cataract causes blurry vision and clouding of the lens to the point where even a new glasses prescription doesn’t help, then its likely that your cataract needs to come out. The best way to have your cataract and vision evaluated is by seeing your ophthalmologist.
Your eye doctor can determine what your best corrected visual acuity is. This value, sometimes abbreviated as BCVA, stands for the best vision you are able to achieve with the help of a new prescription.
When Is The Right Time For Cataract Surgery
The right time for cataract surgery depends on a few different factors. You can discuss all of these with your ophthalmologist before scheduling cataract removal surgery.
- Blurred Vision: Patients who are about to have cataract surgery should be symptomatic with either blurry vision or some sort of visual disturbance that is severely affect their daily tasks. For example, severe glare sensitivity in a person who drives frequently may be a reason for having cataract surgery. Cataracts do not usually cause double vision.
- Eye Health: If your cataract is affecting other parts of your eye in a negative way, then taking untreated cataracts out may be a good idea. In an eye condition called phacomorphic glaucoma, the cataract is causing an increase in eye pressure leading to glaucoma. This is an indication for cataract surgery.
- Good Overall Health: Patients who are about to undergo cataract treatment should be in overall good health. Patients who are unstable may not be great candidates for immediate cataract surgery. A patient’s overall health should be somewhat stable before they consider having surgical procedures for their eye.
- Timing: Typically once you have cataract surgery in one eye, you will likely want to have it done in the second eye. This is because the clear vision in the operated eye will be a stark contrast to the cloudy lens and cloudy vision in the other eye. So you will want to have a one to two months where you don’t have any major travel planned.
What About Laser Cataract Surgery?
Many patients ask if laser cataract surgery can be done to remove a cataract. It is important to note that there is no way to completely do cataract surgery with only a laser.
Cataract surgery requires an incision to remove the cataract and place the artificial lens into the eye. A non-surgical treatment for cataracts does not exist at this time.
Why Did My Doctor Mention Using A Laser For Cataract Surgery?
Patients may get confused because there is laser assisted cataract surgery. This means that part of the surgery is done by a laser. For some patients, laser assisted cataract surgery can be a great option.
Laser is not required to cataract surgery, and is considered a premium offering by insurance companies. This means that while most insurances will pay for the cost of the cataract surgery, they may not cover the cost of the laser. If your ophthalmologist or cataract surgeon is discussing laser with you to help with your cataract surgery, they will also be able to give you the out of pocket cost for the laser.
Is There A Natural Cure For Cataracts?
No, the only way to have clearer vision after having cataracts is to have the cataract surgically removed. People or influencers online who talk about natural remedies for the symptoms of cataracts are incorrect.
The eye’s natural lens is meant to age. It is only through the advances in modern medicine and advances in surgical techniques are we now able to have a high success rate with cataract surgery.
Can A Healthy Lifestyle Reverse Cataracts?
Living a healthy lifestyle can help you your body overall. Having a healthy body is good for your eyes also. Making sure that you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals is important for your overall health and eye health. There is nothing specific to cataracts, and no lifestyle changes that will make a cataract go away or reverse a cataract.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Have Cataract Surgery?
Without effective treatment for cataracts, severe vision loss and total blindness will occur. In some parts of the world, where access to eye surgeons is limited, cataracts do cause complete blindness. In fact, in some parts of the world, cataracts are a leading cause of blindness.
As mentioned above, the cataract may cause your eyeglasses prescription to change. For a period time, the eye doctor may be able to adjust this prescription so you still see fairly well. However, eventually eye lens will become so cloudy that you will not be able to see through it.
How Long Can I Wait To Have Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is almost never an emergency. Usually you can wait a few months to a year to think about it. However waiting several years can be harmful.
Waiting until your cataract is very dense to have surgery can have risks. As the intraocular lens becomes more and more cloudy with a cataract, the cataract will become increasingly difficult to remove. This means that an otherwise very low risk surgery becomes a more complicated surgery. Very hard lenses may require larger incisions and more power to remove. This can be more traumatizing to the eye itself.
Can Cataracts Be Reversed: Summary
Just how the human body’s aging can not be reversed, the aging of the human lens (a cataract) can not be reversed. Although cataracts can not be reversed, they can be cured through surgical removal.
Cataract surgery is the only effective treatment for a visually significant cataract. People who suggest that treatment options for cataracts include eye drops or natural remedies are incorrect.
Some types of cataracts are specific to diseases like diabetes, and other types of cataracts can result from trauma or eye surgery. Therefore, to avoid having early cataracts that are not related to age (the most common type of cataract) be sure to avoid eye trauma and keep any chronic diseases that you have well managed.