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With Cataracts, Misinformation Seems to Abound
Date:12/27/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- When medical experts talk about prevalence, they're usually referring to how common a particular disease might be. But in the case of cataracts, they might just as well be talking about how common it is to uncover misinformation and misunderstanding about the condition.

Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness among seniors in the United States, with more than half of all U.S. residents developing the cloudy vision of cataracts by the time they reach 80 years old, according to Prevent Blindness America, a nonprofit group that focuses on eye health.

But eye experts say that people seem to believe things about cataracts that aren't quite right, including when and how they should be treated. Misinformation often seems to develop innocently enough, with well-meaning folks spreading things they've learned by word-of-mouth.

"Sometimes friends give confusing and conflicting information because not every patient is the same or because they've heard something from someone else," said Dr. Cynthia Bradford, an ophthalmology professor at the University of Oklahoma's Dean A. McGee Eye Institute.

Nonetheless, the misinformation sometimes leads people to delay treatment long past when it could help them or to expect too much from treatment for this widespread vision problem.

Cataracts occur when the lens of an eye grows cloudy, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute. Vision might grow progressively cloudy until the person has difficulty seeing, or the person's vision might take on a brownish tint that makes it harder to distinguish colors.

And that leads to one of the first major myths -- that cataracts are something that grow on top of the eye.

"A lot of people think of it as a growth, but it's almost like honey that's become granulated," Bradford said. The lens itself is the problem, which is why cataract surgery requi
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