What Happens When You Leave Cataracts Untreated?

May 28th, 2020
doctor examining patient eye

Cataracts can cause noticeable degradation of your vision if left untreated, but luckily — effective treatment options are available to restore your vision. 

As we age, our eyes go through changes that can damage our vision and meaningfully impact our quality of life. Cataracts are one of those changes, More than half of all Americans  80 and over are either living with cataracts or have undergone surgery to treat them. 

Patients may not notice that they have cataracts at first, but cataracts can develop and cause gradual changes in their vision. Typically, cataracts cause your vision to seem cloudy or blurred, can make colors look less vibrant, and can make it difficult to see comfortably at night. Left untreated, these symptoms can worsen and cause additional issues with your vision. 

Thankfully, patients have options when it comes to cataract treatment. By checking in with eye care specialists regularly and monitoring the development of cataracts, patients can elect to undergo cataract surgery — one of the most common surgical procedures in the country — when the time is right for them. 

What Causes Cataracts and How Can I Prevent Them?

Typically, cataracts are the inevitable result of aging. As we get older, the proteins in the lens of your eyes begin to break down. When this process starts, these proteins gradually bunch together, creating a cloudy film on the lens of your eye that can impair your vision. This cloudiness is known as a cataract.

While no one can avoid aging, there are common-sense steps that you can take to protect your eyes and decrease your risk of developing cataracts. For example, wearing sunglasses and brimmed hats can block the sun and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Quitting smoking and eating a diet rich in leafy greens and other vital nutrients are also important.

What Risks Do Cataracts Pose to Vision Health?

Although the symptoms of cataracts might not seem severe — difficulty seeing at night, halos around bright lights, dulled colors — they can cause serious issues if left untreated. For instance, over time, cataracts can lead to more pronounced vision loss and even blindness. What’s more, the longer that cataracts go untreated, the harder it is for surgical procedures to reverse their effects. 

In addition to impaired vision, untreated cataracts can make life particularly difficult — especially for seniors. The severity of vision loss caused by cataracts can increase the likelihood of debilitating falls, make it more likely that patients run into unseen objects, and cause feelings of social isolation and depression. 

What Treatment Options Are Available for Cataracts?

Treatment for cataracts will vary from one patient to the next. For some who are experiencing cataracts, an updated prescription may be all that’s necessary to restore proper vision. For others, cataract surgery may be necessary. Thankfully, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country and is known for its consistently high rates of success.

With that said, effectively managing cataracts depends on catching them as they develop. By scheduling regular eye exams with ophthalmologists who are trained to spot the telltale signs of cataracts early, patients can get ahead of the curve and treat their cataracts early. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment with a team of experienced eye care specialists, reach out to the team at our Mesa and Chandler locations today for an expert consultation.