Ask most people what they know about cataracts and you’ll probably hear a combination of the terms “eye problem” and “older people”—and not much else.

That’s not too surprising. Roughly half of all Americans who reach age 80 will have to contend with cataracts, according the National Institutes of Health. But it’s possible to have age-related cataracts starting in your 40s, though they usually don’t mess with your vision until you get past 60. And some middle-aged men and women may be unknowingly squinting or straining to see clearly through cataracts, says Stephen Foster, MD, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and founder of Massachusetts Eye Research & Surgery Institution.

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