Joe Zartler is just two weeks out of the surgeries he had on each eye to treat his cataracts. "Things were fuzzy and some things I had a hard time seeing far away or sometimes even up close," he said.
Cataracts affect more than half of all aging adults, yet in spite of their prevalence, there are still many myths about what causes them and how they are treated. Ophthalmologist Brian Mikulla at Falgoust Eye, Medical and Surgical helped sort out cataract fact from fiction - starting with activities that could lead to the eye condition.
"There really is no activity that you could do that is going to make cataracts worse," said Dr. Mikulla. "People may notice more problems with their vision up close, but that's just an effect of the cataract, it's not a cause of the cataract."
Uncontrolled diabetes and sun exposure can worsen cataracts, but most are simply a part of the aging process.
Next: eye drops can prevent or dissolve cataracts. "That is a myth," said Dr. Mikulla, "there actually is no eye drop that can dissolve or reverse cataracts."
Dr. Mikulla says it takes cataract surgery with a lens implant to get vision cleared up again and it is a myth that the surgery is a dangerous, long procedure. "All surgeries have risks, but cataract surgeries are actually one of the most successful surgeries that we have today," he said. "For many people, they notice significant improvement in their vision just within a day or a few weeks after surgery."
For Zartler, it took his eye doctor telling him glasses would not cut it for him anymore to recognize just how much his cataracts had progressed.
When should you see a doctor about cataracts? Dr. Mikulla says there are some common red flags. "If it gets to the point where they're having a lot of trouble driving at night or they feel like they're not able to do the things they want to do, well that's the point that we consider doing some surgery."
Zartler says he is glad he got the facts on his cataracts and he is already enjoying his new-found sight. "I was at the football game Saturday night and I could see everything clear as a bell," he said.
Another myth is that cataracts "grow back" after surgery. Occasionally, the membrane holding the new lens implant can become cloudy, but a 15-minute laser procedure can correct that.