Will everyone have presbyopia and cataracts?

This is actually the same question as "Why do we have to physically age?" Presbyopia and "cataract" are the inevitable effects of aging in the natural lens of the eye. The gradual loss of function is similar to what age does to our skin, hair, bones, and joints. Fortunately, the current generation of Baby-Boomers moving into our senior years are generally far healthier and more fit than previous generations. Most of this is due to recognition of the importance of healthy diet, moderated alcohol use, and the gradual elimination of tobacco/smoking.

But still we age and our bodies (including the eyes) fail. There has been work on ways to impede the deterioration of the natural lens -both its hardening and discoloration. But so far, nothing has really worked to any significant degree. While surgery is certainly more invasive and expensive than diet, exercise, and medical eye drops, lens implants (IOLs) have tremendously improved the prognosis for cataracts and presbyopia. But perhaps in the future there will be ways to actually prevent the deterioration of the natural lens.


Written by J. Trevor Woodhams, M.D. - Chief of Surgery, Woodhams Eye Clinic

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