As people get older, their risk for various eye problems increases. This includes the formation of cataracts. Cataracts are one of the most common and easily treatable causes of age-related vision loss. Millions of cataract surgery procedures are performed every year, with high rates of success and patient satisfaction. In fact, we perform numerous cataract removal surgeries for people in the greater Chicago, IL area.
Dr. Daniel J. Tepper and the team at Wicker Park Eye Center would like to go over some statistics and figures about cataracts. This should give you an idea of how common cataracts are and how effective cataract surgery is as a treatment option.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 or older suffer from cataracts. By age 75, half of all Americans will have developed or experienced cataracts. Since cataracts are caused by sun exposure, eye injuries, and long-term wear and tear on the eyes, this number should not be that surprising.
In addition to age-related cataracts, babies can be born with cataracts. These are known as congenital cataracts, and the condition is thankfully quite rare. In the United States, numbers from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimate that congenital cataracts occur in just 3 to 4 children in 10,000 live births.
We should note that these numbers may be off since they only account for visually significant congenital cataracts. Less serious cases of congenital cataracts are not accounted for.
According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually. Eye Wire estimates that there were around 26 million cataract surgeries performed worldwide in 2017.
The success rates of cataract surgery are extraordinarily high. The ASCRS estimates success rates as high as 98 percent. Among 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent cataract surgery from 1994 to 2006, 99.5 percent of these patients experienced no adverse side effects or complications.
The global numbers on cataracts tell a fascinating story about access to simple medical procedures.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts account for 51 percent of all cases of blindness worldwide. That is approximately 20 million people blind due to cataracts. Even though cataract surgery is common and effective in the United States and much of the developed world, millions of people simply do not have access to these kinds of routine surgeries.
In addition to the above, the AAO estimates that congenital cataracts may account for between 5 and 20 percent of all cases of blindness worldwide.
Typically, cataracts will start to develop around middle age and into a person’s golden years. The NEI notes that people can start to develop cataracts in their 40s and 50s, though cataracts may not have an impact on vision until their 60s.
A Mayo Clinic study looking at cataract surgeries in Olmsted County, Minnesota performed between 2005 to 2011 found that 20 percent of cataract surgeries were performed on people younger than 65; only 1 or 2 percent of cataract surgeries were performed on patients in their early 40s.
To learn more about your vision needs and how we can help you, be sure to contact Wicker Park Eye Center. Our eye doctors can answer all of your questions about cataracts and cataract surgery. We look forward to hearing from you.