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Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Not only can cataracts lead to blindness, but cataracts are also the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States. Across the world, cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness and vision problems.

There is no available treatment or cure for cataracts other than cataract surgery, although corrective eyewear can be worn to help with vision issues.

How Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

A cataract begins to impede and compromise vision from the moment it starts to develop. When a cataract starts to affect an individual’s vision, their eyesight can become blurry and cloudy.

Additional cataract symptoms include sensitivity to light, double vision, and seeing halos around artificial sources of light, such as streetlights.

If left untreated, cataracts will get worse over time and can ultimately lead to permanent blindness. By ignoring a cataract, the problem in question will get worse, and new cataracts can certainly begin to develop. This risk is higher in patients with medical problems that have been linked to cataracts, such as diabetes and certain skin conditions.

Is Vision Loss From Cataracts Permanent?

No, vision loss related to cataracts is not usually permanent. Vision can be restored if blindness resulted from a cataract or multiple cataracts. Many patients experience drastically improved vision almost immediately.

Cataract surgery is quick and routine, and many patients notice a difference in vision right away once post-surgery symptoms have subsided.

If someone doesn’t want to get surgery, blurred vision can be treated and corrected with prescription glasses up to a point.

Cataract Prevention

Avoiding certain lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can help individuals avoid getting cataracts. Eating healthy and wearing protective eyewear while out in the sun can also help to prevent or slow the formation of cataracts.

Steroids prescribed for certain medical conditions like arthritis and various skin disorders have been linked to cataracts. Avoiding steroid use is another way to reduce your risk of getting a cataract.

However, cataracts can also come as the result of the natural aging process, in which cases developing a cataract might be unavoidable. 

Treatment Options

If you believe you have a cataract, it’s important to get a professional opinion right away. An eye doctor will perform various tests and give you a diagnosis. There are at-home tests available for testing for cataracts, however, an eye specialist will need to perform an examination before you can know for sure that you have a cataract.

Here are the treatments available:

Protective Eyewear

For individuals who have cataracts, prescription glasses are one way to improve vision and reduce the negative effects that cataracts have on eyesight. Patients who don’t get surgery should have checkups every year to monitor their cataracts. 

As cataracts begin to worsen, cataract surgery will eventually be the best option for restoring vision and avoiding further vision loss.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is the only way to cure cataracts (by removing them). Cataract surgery is performed by removing the natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens (also called an IOL) that will last the rest of a person’s lifetime.

Cataract surgery can be performed in well under an hour, and recovery time is minimal. Most often, an ophthalmologist will perform the surgery while the patient is under local anesthesia. 

References

  1. Predicting Changes in Cataract Surgery Health Outcomes Using a Cataract Surgery Appropriateness and Prioritization Instrument. (January 2021). PLOS ONE.

  2. Clinical Evaluation of a New Monofocal IOL With Enhanced Intermediate Function in Patients With Cataract. (February 2021). Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

  3. Eliminating Cataract Blindness: Are We on Target? (December 2017). Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.

Last Updated January 10, 2023

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.