What is the Average Age for Cataract Surgery?

Cataracts are largely considered an ‘old age’ condition, but the truth is, they can affect people of all ages. For example, while the most common form of cataracts is associated with ageing, they can develop for other reasons. In this article, we’re taking a look at the different types of cataracts and answering the question: What is the average age for cataract surgery?

Cataracts are the formation of cloudy tissue in the lens of the eye. This obstruction, caused by the clumping together of broken-down proteins in the lens, often occurs due to the natural ageing process of the eye. However, in some cases, cataracts may not be related to age at all.

There are three types of age-related cataracts:

  • Nuclear sclerotic cataracts
  • Cortical cataracts
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts are the most common type of cataract. They begin to form in the middle of the lens causing it to harden and become cloudy over time – this can often take many years. The cataract may be yellow- or brownish in appearance which can affect the patient’s ability to distinguish colours effectively. With the development of nuclear sclerotic cataracts, distance vision is affected first, followed later by near vision.

Cortical cataracts begin to form on the outside edges of the lens. Over time, the cataract spreads to the centre of the lens, first through lines which resemble spokes on a wheel. Vision can be impacted significantly depending on the placement of these lines and symptoms such as night glare are common.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts affect the back of the lens’s surface beneath the lens capsule where tissue becomes increasingly cloudy over time. This type of cataract often develops quickly and can be associated with sensitivity to light, such as night glare and halos.

The chance of developing cataracts increases significantly as we get older. For example, the prevalence of cataracts in the UK is estimated to be 16% in people aged 65–69 years compared with 42% in people aged 75–79 years. Prevalence continues to increase in older age groups.

Non-Age Related Cataracts

As we have mentioned, cataracts are not always related to ageing. They can also occur in babies from birth or shortly afterwards (congenital cataracts) and develop in children and older babies (developmental, infantile or juvenile cataracts).

Such cases of childhood cataracts are much rarer than age-related cataracts with an estimated 3 in 10,000 children diagnosed in the UK before 1 year of age, and 4 in 10,000 children by 15 years of age, according to a 2001 study.

You may also be at higher risk of developing cataracts if you:

  • Have underlying health conditions, such as diabetes;
  • Smoke;
  • Drink a lot of alcohol;
  • Have had an eye injury or eye surgery in the past;
  • Have had radiation treatment on your upper body;
  • Have a history of long-term steroid use;
  • Have a family history of cataracts;
  • Spend a lot of time in the sun.
So, what is the average age for Cataract Surgery?

Cataracts are much more common in older people, with the condition primarily affecting those aged between 75-85. In the UK, the average age of patients seeking Cataract Surgery was 76.3 years.

However, cataracts can develop at any age, so it is important to be aware of the signs of cataract formation. The breaking down of proteins in the eye’s lens usually begins to occur from the age of around 40. The good news is that, for many patients, the effects of this process won’t become clear for many years.

If you are diagnosed with cataracts, a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses may be useful in managing any changes to your vision in the early stage of development. However, no matter what type of cataract you may have, surgery is the only treatment that is proven to be effective.

Cataract Surgery has become one of the most commonly performed surgeries around the world, with an estimated 400,000 surgeries conducted every year in England alone!

If you are in need of Cataract Surgery or would like more information regarding your options, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, Book a Consultation today.