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Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Yes — if left untreated, cataracts cause continual loss of vision, eventually leading to legal blindness or even total blindness.

But when people hear the word "blindness," many assume that severe vision loss is permanent and cannot be cured. In the case of blindness caused by cataracts, vision usually can be successfully restored with cataract surgery and implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL).

And visual outcomes of modern cataract surgery are so good that a person who was legally blind prior to surgery often is able to see well enough to drive without eyeglasses after cataract extraction and IOL implantation.

For best results from cataract surgery, however, it's generally recommended to have the surgery performed before the cataract causes low vision or legal blindness.

Advanced cataracts that cause severe vision loss are more difficult to remove and increase the risk of cataract surgery complications.

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Vance Thompson

Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, ... Read more