Shelley Osterloh ReportingIf we live long enough, 100% of us will develop cataracts in our eyes. The cataract is actually so simple and yet so poorly understood.
Randall J. Olson, M.D., Director, John A. Moran Eye Center, U of U: "The eye has a lens. I mean any optical system needs a lens. The lens is sitting right behind our pupil. And if the lens goes hazy, you call that a cataract."
The causes are varied, but clearly there is one major environmental culprit.
Randall J. Olson, M.D.: “I think a lot of it is just damage done from a lifetime of light. So I guess if we lived in the dark maybe all of our life, but that's, then you can't see. So that's a "catch 22."
Doctor Olson says there are some things that slow down the incidence of cataracts.
Randall J. Olson, M.D: "The key things that we know that are important, the diet, people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of different antioxidant vitamins have been correlated with less cataracts. Vitamin C has been correlated for instance. Um, smoking, as in everything else, has been associated with an increase incidence of cataract formation."
While surgery is the current treatment, Dr. Olson says it has changed drastically over the past 30-years.
Randall J. Olson, M.D: "In fact, I'm not aware of anything in medicine that has changed as dramatically in my lifetime as cataract surgery."
In the past, patients weren't allowed even bathroom privileges for three days, and then they weren't stable for three to four months after surgery.
Randall J. Olson, M.D: “You take cataract surgery today, we're talking a procedure that is often less than 10-minutes. It's outpatient. Patient' can tell dramatic change in their vision right out of the operating room. And 20-20 uncorrected the next day is common. With basically no limitation of activity people are back up and functioning."
Dr. Olson says he recommends that all patients over the age of 45 ought to be seen at least every other year.