How Do Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Elderly couple enjoying the outdoors after Cataract SurgeryCataracts are a common cause of visual impairment. They occur because of aging. When you develop a cataract, the crystalline lens becomes cloudy. Certain factors can speed up this process, but in general, it’s a natural side effect of aging.

Cataracts can make it difficult to see up to the point of causing complete blindness. Keep reading to learn more about how cataracts cause blindness!

Cataracts Block Light

The way our eyes allow us to see is by refracting light through your natural lens to your retina. Issues with how your eye refracts light is what causes most visual impairments. Common refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism occur because of the lens shape.

If your lens is not shaped correctly, refracted light becomes distorted. When the lens gets cloudy, the amount of light that can pass through it is limited. This is what causes blurry vision and difficulty seeing when you have cataracts.

If Left Untreated, Cataracts Get Worse

When you first get cataracts, they may not impair your vision enough to notice. But the longer they untreated, the more they continue developing. Having a cataract does not always mean that it will be a problem if it stays small.

Most people with cataracts find that seeing becomes difficult. The only solution to treat a cataract is with cataract surgery. At a certain point, enough light gets blocked that it causes legal blindness.

Legal Blindness

Being blind means not being able to see. When you are legally blind, it goes beyond having trouble seeing. If you are nearsighted or farsighted and need glasses to see, you aren’t blind. This is because glasses or contacts are able to correct your vision.

Being considered blind means that you cannot see, even with help. You are only considered blind if you cannot see even with help. When you have cataracts that have developed and are ripe, it causes blindness.

Even wearing glasses will not help you see because it’s an issue with how much light can pass through your lens. If little to no light can pass through, you can see very little. At that point, the only solution and way to regain your vision is to get cataract surgery.

Cataract Surgery

If you lose your sight due to cataracts, you may think that you’ll never see again. This is not true! Blindness is not always a permanent condition. When you are blind because of cataracts, it is reversible.

Through cataract surgery, you can get your sight back. The surgery is simple and one of the most common procedures in the United States. The surgeon makes a small incision in your eye. Then they use an instrument that breaks up the cataract and sucks it out.

Once the cataract gets removed, an artificial lens replaces the old crystalline lens. The artificial lens, or IOL, is clear. This gives cataract patients their vision back!

There is a short recovery period associated with cataract surgery. For the first few weeks, your vision may seem distorted. These side effects are temporary and worth it to see again!

Want to learn more about cataracts and cataract surgery? Contact New England Eye Center today to make an appointment at one of our many locations.

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