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What Happens If You Don’t Treat Cataracts?

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Cataracts?

More than 20 million Americans have cataracts, the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fortunately, cataracts can be treated with a simple surgical procedure that removes your clouded lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens.

But what if you don’t want to have cataract surgery? What happens to your vision? And how could it affect your overall wellness and quality of life?

Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, PLLC, has extensive experience treating cataracts and helping patients of all ages enjoy clearer vision at Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida. In this post, learn why cataract treatment is so important and what could happen when treatment is delayed.

Cataracts 101

Cataracts happen when your eye’s natural lens changes from clear to cloudy, making it a lot harder for light to reach the light-sensitive retina at the back of your eye. Located just behind your iris (the colored part of your eye), your eye’s lens bends light as it enters your eye, focusing it on the light-sensitive retina at the back of your eye.

Your retina gathers light information and sends it via your optic nerve to your brain, which translates the data into the images you see. But with cataracts, some of that light is blocked, which means your retina is only getting part of the light data it needs to send clear, crisp images. 

While a lot of people think cataracts only happen to people when they’re much older, your lenses can become cloudy a lot earlier, or you can develop cataracts as a result of an eye injury. Some children are born with cloudy lenses.

The problem with delaying treatment

There is no cure for cataracts, and they won’t go away on their own. In fact, cataracts tend to become worse with age and that means symptoms will get worse too.

Dim vision

Dim or diminishing vision is one of the most noticeable symptoms of cataracts. Because cataracts block light and prevent it from reaching your retina, your ability to see clearly decreases a lot over time. 

At first, you might be able to compensate with brighter lighting or by using a magnifying lens to perform some tasks. Eventually, vision loss can prevent you from driving, reading, using your phone or computer, and doing other close-up work. Severe cataracts can cause total blindness.

Sensitivity to light

Because cataracts disrupt the way your lenses bend light, your eyes can become very sensitive to bright lights, making dim vision even worse. Many people complain of glare or halos around lights that can make seeing uncomfortable.

Faded colors

As your vision declines, you’ll have more difficulty making out colors, and the ones you can see will lose their vibrancy. As clouding continues, your vision can become blurry, and some people even experience double vision as a cataract symptom.

Cataract surgery 101

It’s natural to be a little anxious about any type of surgery, including cataract surgery. But as one of the most common surgeries performed globally, it’s important to know that the techniques and technology used are very well-established, safe, and effective.

Cataract surgery uses special instruments and techniques to access your eye’s natural lens and gently remove it. Then, your surgeon inserts an artificial lens designed to function just like your eye’s natural lens.

The surgery itself takes less than a half hour, and your eye is completely numbed, so you stay comfortable throughout your procedure. After a brief period of postoperative monitoring, you’ll go home with an eye patch covering your eye to protect it. 

Dr. Belalcazar provides complete aftercare information, including scheduling a follow-up appointment to check your progress. Complete healing typically takes about eight weeks. If you have cataracts in both eyes, Dr. Belalcazar typically treats one eye at a time.

Enjoy healthy vision as you age

Cataracts are a common cause of vision loss, but other problems can cause similar symptoms. To learn what’s causing your vision problems and how we can help keep your eyes healthy at every age, call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online with Dr. Belalcazar today.

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