Cataract surgery provides a safe, effective means to treat cataracts. It’s one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are over three million cataract removal procedures performed in the U.S. each year! However, many patients wonder if there is a way to get rid of cataracts without surgery. Read on to find out.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. This clouding occurs when proteins inside the lens begin to clump together. This buildup obstructs the light that passes through the lens, resulting in blurred or hazy vision and other visual impairments. Those who suffer from cataracts compare it to viewing the world through a fogged-up windshield.
Many people develop cataracts as they get older. They’re one of the most common age-related vision problems and a leading cause of age-related vision loss in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to age, other risk factors for cataracts include:
- Excessive exposure to sunlight and UV radiation
- High blood pressure
- Eye injuries
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
In rare cases, children can be born with congenital cataracts or develop cataracts during childhood. Congenital cataracts are genetic, meaning they run in families. Children can also develop cataracts due to problems during pregnancy or childhood illnesses.
Treating Cataracts with Surgery
During cataract surgery, the damaged lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. The artificial lens can also be a vision-correcting lens. This means the patient could experience better vision after cataract surgery than they did before they developed their cataracts.
There are three types of cataract surgery:
- Phacoemulsification. In this procedure, your eye doctor will use an ultrasound probe to break up the cloudy lens for removal.
- Laser-assisted cataract surgery. Lasers are used to remove the lens.
- Extracapsular surgery. Your eye doctor uses surgical tools to remove the affected lens.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure with a very high success rate. The entire procedure takes less than an hour to complete. Most patients don’t experience pain or any other complications as a result of their surgery and can resume their normal activities within a day or two after the surgery.
Can You Get Rid of Cataracts Without Surgery?
There is currently no way to cure, treat, or reverse or otherwise get rid of cataracts without cataract surgery. You cannot eat specific foods to reverse cataracts, and there is no known natural treatment for cataract without surgery.
While alternatives to cataract surgery (including drugs that break up the protein clumps that cause cataracts) are being researched, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any nonsurgical treatments or cures for cataracts.
Can You Prevent Cataracts?
For patient whose cataracts have not progressed to the point of needing surgery, a common question they have is how to prevent cataracts from getting worse. The truth is, cataracts are a part of the natural aging process. While we can’t prevent cataracts entirely, it may be possible to slow their progress. Lifestyle habits that are thought to prevent or slow the formation of cataracts include:
- Eating a nutritious diet rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and lutein
- Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harsh UV rays
- Not smoking and reducing alcohol consumption
- Managing your other medical issues
- Regular eye exams
What Happens if I Don’t Get Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts don’t go into remission. They only get worse. However, not all cataracts progress to the point where they cause significant vision loss. Surgery may not be required if your cataracts aren’t affecting your vision to the point where you’re unable to perform your daily routines.
If your cataracts progress to the point where you’re unable to drive or engage in other activities, cataract surgery will probably be your only option to reverse your vision.
Berkeley Eye Center Is a Leader in Cataract Surgery in Houston, TX
Berkeley Eye Center is a leader in cataract surgery in Houston. Our ophthalmologists have helped set the standards for cataract care and treatment in Texas and around the world. We offer patients the latest in intraocular lens implants, including the Vivity IOL and RxSight Light Adjustable Lens.
Berkeley Eye Center has been protecting the vision of Houstonians for more than 60 years. Our team of Houston ophthalmologists and optometrists offers patients a complete range of eye care services from comprehensive eye exams and eyewear to the latest in cataract treatment, LASIK eye surgery, oculoplastic procedures, and glaucoma management.
Contact Berkeley Eye Center today to schedule a consultation and find out if you are a candidate for cataract surgery. You can schedule an appointment through our website or call us at (713) 581-6561. We accept most forms of vision insurance (including Flex Spending and Health Savings accounts) and offer patients a wide range of payment options. With over 24 clinics and optical locations throughout the greater Houston area, there’s a Berkeley Eye Center near you.