Medically reviewed on 06-October-2023
Patients frequently ask us what the average age for cataract surgery is. Average ages are not especially useful when discussing cataract surgery because, while it is a condition that primarily affects older people, the condition can come on as early as your 40s or 50s, and in rare cases, children can even be born with a congenital cataract.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, leading to blurred or cloudy vision. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. While the severity of the problem varies from person to person, over time the cataracts will cause a partial and, ultimately, a complete loss of vision. However, the good news is that it is almost always treatable. Around 95% of people who receive cataract surgery find that their vision returns to the level experienced before the cataract developed. At Optegra, our private cataract statistics are quite formidable, with over 35,000 treatments carried out a year with success rates of 99.6%. If you’re considering cataract surgery, our expert surgeons will be able to help. Contact us for a free consultation.
Here we’ll discuss when to have cataract surgery and how age factors impact the condition.
When Should You Have Your Cataracts Removed?
There is no non-surgical treatment for cataracts. The only option to restore sight is to remove and replace the natural lens.
However, it is not the case that a cataract should be removed simply because it is present. For many people, a cataract will have no real impact on day-to-day life, and in such cases, it is not recommended to have a cataract operation unless the impact on vision worsens.
Unlike laser eye surgery, cataract removal is not an elective procedure and should only be carried out if deemed necessary by you and your surgeon. For example, if reading has become difficult, driving is impossible, and quality of life is impaired, these are all reasons for considering whether to have cataract surgery.
Should I have Cataract Surgery in One Eye or Both Eyes?
If you are suffering from loss of vision in both eyes, then surgery will usually be carried out on both eyes, several weeks apart. Learn more in our recent blog post on How Does Cataract Surgery Work
Is There an Age Limit for Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery typically has no age limit because the decision to undergo surgery is primarily based on the impact of cataracts on an individual’s vision and daily life rather than on their age. Cataracts can affect people of all ages, although they are more common in older individuals.
The decision for surgery is made on a case-by-case basis after a comprehensive eye examination by your consultant, considering factors such as the severity of cataracts, the impact on vision, overall eye health, and the individual’s ability to function and perform daily activities safely.
While less common, several factors can contribute to the development of cataracts in people under the age of 60. These factors include congenital conditions, such as hereditary cataracts that are present from birth or develop during childhood, as well as eye injuries, or systemic diseases such as diabetes that may lead to cataract formation.
Additionally, certain medications, such as corticosteroids can increase the risk of cataracts at a younger age. Regardless of the cause, when cataracts significantly impair a younger person’s vision and quality of life, they may be a candidate for cataract surgery to restore clear vision and improve daily functioning.
At What Age Are Cataracts Most Common?
Cataracts are most common in older individuals, typically occurring in people aged 60 and older. However, the age at which cataract surgery is performed varies and is not necessarily tied to when cataracts first develop. While cataracts often start to develop around this age, the decision to undergo surgery is based on the individual’s unique circumstances, including the impact of cataracts on their vision and daily life.
Many people with early-stage cataracts can manage their symptoms through changes in spectacle prescriptions or by using brighter lighting. As cataracts progress and begin to significantly affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities, like driving or reading, cataract surgery may be recommended.
Other considerations for Surgery
As mentioned above, age is not necessarily a factor that limits cataract surgery. However, there are certain conditions and circumstances where it might not be best to undergo the treatment. These can include some of the following:
Underlying conditions: Conditions such as diabetic retinopathy or wet age-related macular degeneration might limit what can be achieved during cataract surgery and impact the results expected.
Previous eye trauma: If you have suffered any prior eye damage in an accident, then this may need to be considered.
Genetic conditions: Keratoconus and Marfan’s syndrome are two genetic conditions that can make cataract surgery more complex.
Pre-existing ocular conditions—glaucoma, uveitis, and other conditions affecting the eyes—might mean you will need to have a specialist or consultant-led cataract surgery.
When you book your procedure with Optegra, these factors will be discussed by your surgeon.
How to Decide If Cataract Surgery Is for You
It’s important to realise that it is always you, the patient, who has the final say about whether you have cataract surgery. Understanding cataract symptoms that can increase the possibility of needing surgery can help patients make a more considered decision for their personal circumstances.
Our world-class surgeons can help you understand what is involved and advise you on the best way forward, but it is up to you to decide if it’s for you or not. The following might be useful when deciding whether now is the time to consider cataract surgery:
Impact on Daily Life: Assess how cataracts affect daily activities. If cataracts significantly impair activities like reading, driving, recognising faces, or performing work or hobbies, it may be time to consider surgery.
Visual Acuity: Evaluate changes in visual acuity. If visual acuity (ability to see fine detail) deteriorates to a point where it no longer meets an individual’s needs, surgery may be warranted.
Quality of Life: Consider the impact on overall quality of life. If cataracts lead to reduced independence, safety concerns, or a decreased enjoyment of life due to visual limitations, surgery may offer significant benefits.
If you decide that having cataract surgery is the best option for you, rest assured that here at Optegra we will be on hand to support and guide you every step of the way.
Factors That Increase Your Risk of Developing Cataracts
Beyond age, there can be several factors that increase the risk of developing cataracts. These include:
Ultraviolet (UV) Exposure: Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun and other sources can increase the risk of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses and protective eyewear can help reduce this risk.
Smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for cataracts. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke can accelerate cataract formation.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing cataracts, particularly if their blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
Family History: A family history of cataracts can increase the likelihood of developing them. .
Obesity: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce this risk.
High Blood Pressure: Hypertension (high blood pressure) has been linked to an elevated risk of developing the condition.
Medications: Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, especially in high doses, can raise cataract risk.
Dietary Factors: Diets high in carbohydrates and low in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals may contribute to cataract formation. Consuming a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk.
Other factors include:
- Previous eye injuries or surgeries
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Exposure to radiation
It’s important to note that while these factors can increase the risk of cataracts, they don’t guarantee that an individual will develop them. Additionally, many risk factors are modifiable, meaning that lifestyle changes and protective measures can help reduce the risk of cataracts. Regular eye examinations with an eye care professional can also help monitor and detect cataracts early, allowing for timely intervention if needed. Discover more factors that may increase your risk of developing cataracts.
What next? Get in touch for free, no-obligation advice.
If you’re suffering from cataracts, why not contact us to see if we can help? Our friendly and experienced patient services team is waiting to offer advice on how we can provide treatment quickly and comfortably. Or learn more about cataract surgery with Optegra.
By Author: Alastair Stuart
Alastair has extensive experience in both Laser eye surgery and Cataract Surgery. He has completed over 2000 laser eye surgeries, including more than 1000 SMILE procedures, and over 2000 cataract/lens based surgeries.