Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Jani

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Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss among older adults. By their 80th birthday, over half of all Americans have either had a cataract or have undergone cataract surgery. Cataracts reduce the amount of light entering the eye, making vision dull or blurry.

One of the most frequent cataract-related questions that the team at Vista Eye Specialists receives is whether cataracts can cause blindness. Read on for the answer.

Will Cataracts Go Away on Their Own?

Cataracts will not disappear on their own. If left untreated, they will continue to get worse. In the most advanced cases, cataracts can cause significant visual impairment and even legal or total blindness.

But there is good news: cataracts are very treatable with surgical intervention. Thanks to modern cataract surgery, vision lost to cataracts can be restored and even improved. Some patients can see well enough after recovering from surgery that they are able to drive or enjoy their favorite hobbies without glasses.

What Does Cataract Surgery Entail?

The procedure takes approximately 15 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. Ultrasound or laser energy is used to carefully fragment the cloudy lens into smaller pieces, which are removed from the eye through a small incision. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, an artificial lens implant is inserted into the eye in the capsule, or membrane, that held the natural lens. Depending on the type of lens that is used, patients may reclaim vision at a single fixed distance or a range of distances. Certain lenses (called toric lenses) also correct for pre-existing astigmatism. There is little downtime required after surgery and most patients make a swift visual recovery.

Today’s cataract surgery technology and techniques are so advanced that patients can reclaim the quality of vision they enjoyed when they were much younger. However, for the best outcomes, surgeons advise having surgery sooner rather than later. Advanced or “mature” cataracts can be harder to remove and may make surgery riskier.

Learn More about Cataract Surgery

For more information about the visual effects of cataracts and cataract surgery, please schedule a consultation with the Vista Eye Specialists team. Contact us today to request an appointment.