What Happens If Cataracts Are Left Untreated
The average person has about a 50/50 chance of developing cataracts – cloudy, blurred, or obscured vision – later in their life. At any given time, there are over 25 million Americans suffering from cataracts. They’re one of the most common issues we address at Eye Centers of Florida, but there’s good news — they’re entirely treatable.
However, cataracts shouldn’t be ignored. Cataracts that are left untreated for too long can lead to severely impaired vision or blindness. The longer cataracts develop, the greater the chance they become “hyper-mature,” meaning that they’re tougher and more complicated to remove. In almost all cases, early detection and surgery is the solution.
What Are Cataracts?
Eyes focus with the cornea and the lens. The cornea, a transparent layer at the front of the eye, focuses the light. The lens, a clear and flexible tissue behind the pupil, acts like a film reel, interpreting images and sending those interpretations through the retina to the brain.
The lens relies on a precise arrangement of proteins to do its job well. Over time, the lens can develop protein clumps or become less flexible, which is what leads to cataracts. Cataracts can cause any of the following:
- Blurring and clouding of vision
- Decreased night vision
- Increased glare and light sensitivity
- Fading or yellowing colors
- Halos around lights
- Double vision
What Causes Cataracts?
The reason most people have a 50/50 chance of developing cataracts at some point is that the most common cause of cataracts is simply aging: the lens is just as susceptible to changing with age as the rest of us. Other causes include genetic factors, various illnesses that affect nutritional balance, and trauma to the eye.
That said, there are steps you can take to avoid illness or injury-related cataracts. Eating healthy, avoiding too much sun exposure to your eyes, and not smoking cigarettes can all help decrease your odds of developing cataracts. Treating your eyes well in general — getting regular eye exams and wearing your proper prescription — goes a long way too.
What Happens If Cataracts Are Left Untreated?
In addition to the many vision impairments that cataracts cause, they also get worse over time. As cataracts age, they become “mature,” and at a certain point are deemed “hyper-mature.” These cataracts are far more difficult to remove, and more likely to cause surgical complications. As this maturing happens, symptoms become worse, and can lead to legal – or total – blindness.
Even in the early stages of cataracts, your life can be adversely affected. A slight decrease in night vision, halos around lights, and a little blurriness don’t sound so bad on their own. However, when you consider trying to drive at night with low vision, read a computer screen with a halo around it, or even navigate your home without total clarity, the effect that cataracts can have on your life becomes more noticeable.
Is Cataract Surgery Necessary?
There’s one extremely effective option for treating cataracts – cataract surgery – there aren’t really any other treatment options. No medicines or eyewear can directly address cataracts; they can only curb cataracts’ effects. Only cataract surgery can correct cataracts.
We understand vision loss can be frustrating and scary. We consult with people suffering from cataracts every day at Eye Centers of Florida. If you have cataracts, our doctors and cataract surgeons will help you understand your options and provide care personalized to your case. With compassionate, experienced doctors and top-of-the-line technology, we’ve served tens of thousands of cataract patients in Southwest Florida.
Do Cataracts Grow Back?
While it may be disappointing to hear that the only solution to cataracts is cataract surgery, the good news is, you only need to have it performed once. Cataract surgery replaces your natural lens with an artificial one. The artificial lens cannot degrade or develop clumps, the causes of cataracts. In other words, cataracts cannot “grow back” with your new lens.
Can You Cure Cataracts Without Surgery?
To clarify: Cataract surgery is the only way to effectively treat cataracts. The cataract is removed, and the natural lens replaced with an artificial one. In other words, the original cataract is removed rather than fixed. There isn’t a medication that can undo cataracts, and no eyewear can completely counteract its effects.
When Is the Right Time for Cataract Surgery?
Cataract progression is nearly impossible to predict. The causes of the cataracts impact how quickly they develop; diabetes and aging may cause the timeline to vary. In addition, every individual will develop cataracts differently. There are just too many factors to know for sure.
That said, there’s a good way to start cataract prevention and monitor cataract development: regular eye doctor appointments. Not only can these appointments tell you if you’re susceptible to cataracts, they can also catch cataracts in their early stages, before they become serious issues.
The best thing you can do when you start to notice cataract symptoms is schedule a consultation with a cataract specialist.
Cataract Surgery with Eye Centers of Florida
If you have cataracts and want to explore your options, you should set up an appointment with a cataract specialist at Eye Centers of Florida. We’ll discuss how cataracts affect your life and explore what’s causing them. From there, we’ll explain your options with our state-of-the-art facilities, the benefits of cataract surgery, and what timeline works for you.
Our Accredited SurgiCare Center, located at our flagship location in Fort Myers, is the home of our superior ophthalmology team. Led by David C. Brown, M.D., F.A.C.S., we are dedicated to perfecting Eye Centers of Florida’s craft and providing the best possible care. We’re industry authorities in cataract surgery and can help you reach a clearer future.
Step one is meeting with our highly qualified team of doctors. We want to know what’s bothering you, provide world-class, comprehensive care, and help you choose your best option. We’ve staked our name on building strong and lifelong relationships with patients, and we’d love to provide you the service you deserve.