Cataracts still blind millions of people in the developing world, but in North America, they're readily removed with surgery. The operation takes about an hour or less. It's usually done under a local anaesthetic, while you stay awake. The old blurry lens is replaced with a new, clear plastic lens. The operation improves vision in over 90% of people, usually quite dramatically. Generally, only one eye is operated on at a time.
After the surgery, some people find the world explodes into colour so intense it's almost painful. This is because the brain has compensated for the lower light intake by amplifying colour signals. It can take some time for the brain to get used to your improved vision. You may not be able to drive your car for a few weeks if this is the case.
Cataracts happen with natural aging, but you can take steps to prevent them. To avoid exposing your eyes to sunlight, wear sunglasses that filter out both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses that only filter out UVB can actually increase your risk of cataracts because they shade your eyes, causing the pupils to open, and this allows more UVA light to enter the eye.
You can get more antioxidants in your diet by eating citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. You'll also help offset your risk of heart disease and cancer. If you're a smoker, you can improve your chances even more by quitting.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
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