Signs of Cataracts from Expert Eye Doctors
If you have been diagnosed with a cataract, it means that the lens of the eye has become clouded over and is starting to impair your vision.
This eye condition is quite common, especially among older adults. But certain types of cataracts can also affect younger generations.
It’s important for patients of all ages to understand and watch for signs of cataracts. Additionally, regular eye exams are helpful in cataract detection because the eye doctor can identify symptoms in the earliest stages.
Cataracts: What Are They?
As mentioned above, cataracts cause the eye lens to become cloudy. Typically, this part of the eye is clear – it is the area you are looking through all day long. When the lens clouds over, it limits the amount of light that can pass into the eye, reducing the light that focuses on the retina.
Having a cataract feels like you are always looking through a dusty car windshield or a foggy window. You’ll notice that everything you see has a hazy, blurred, or less colorful appearance.
Most Common Signs of Cataracts
According to expert eye doctors, there are specific signs of cataracts patients should watch for:
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Seeing double
- Yellow or dull vision
- Dim vision
- Ghost images or vision distortions
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Bright colors seem faded
- Halos around lights
- Needing more light to read
Early Symptoms of Cataracts
In the earliest stages, the presence of a mild cataract probably won’t disrupt your life. In fact, the symptoms might be so minor that you don’t notice how your eyes are changing.
Sometimes, the cloudiness of the lens only affects a small area in your field of vision.
But, over time, the cataract can continue growing more prominent and cause a bigger impact on your vision. Eventually, you will find it hard to see.
Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. This eye condition is not contagious, so you can’t spread a cataract from one eye to the other. But it is common for people to develop cataracts in both eyes.
Types of Cataracts
The term “cataract” refers to the clouding of the lens. There are actually several eye conditions that fall in this category:
- Age-Related Cataracts: Most cataract patients are in the later stages of life. Aging is one of the most common causes of cataracts.
- Traumatic Cataracts: When an injury affects one or both eyes, it increases the risk of cataract development. The cataract can form immediately, or it might happen a few years later.
- Congenital Cataracts: In rare situations, babies can be born with cataracts. Or, it’s possible for childhood cataracts to develop in the first few years of life. When a child has cataracts, the condition usually affects both eyes.
- Secondary Cataracts: If a patient has another disease, such as diabetes, cataracts can be a secondary condition. Another common trigger of secondary cataracts is the use of steroid medications.
Cataract Causes: Are You at Risk
Eye doctors are still trying to determine the exact reason why cataracts happen. Some of the most likely causes of cataracts include:
- Too much sunlight on the eyes
- Using certain diuretics
- Using steroids
At this point, additional research is needed to understand how these potential causes affect the eyes and result in the formation of cataracts.
Additionally, certain risk factors could make you more prone to a cataract diagnosis:
- Location: Recent research has suggested that people in higher altitudes have a higher risk of cataract development.
- Age: The most common risk factor is age. Patients can start developing cataracts as early as 40 or 50 years old.
- Sun: Spending too much time in the sun can increase the likelihood of developing cataracts.
- Family: If there is a history of cataracts in your family, you have a higher risk of getting cataracts.
Most of the time, age-related cataracts develop slowly. However, when cataracts are caused by other things, such as medication use, it’s possible for the cataract to form suddenly and progress quickly.
How Cataract Diagnosis Works
Whether you schedule an eye exam because you suspect you have cataracts or the eye doctor identifies warning signs of cataracts during a routine exam, the next step is to determine an official diagnosis.
Cataract diagnosis might include a variety of eye tests, including:
- Pupil Dilation: Using drops to widen the pupil so the eye doctor can get a clear view of the retina inside the eye.
- Visual Acuity Test: Measuring a person’s vision at different distances.
Available Treatment Options for Cataracts
Your treatment plan will be personalized based on the severity of cataracts, as well as your age, overall health, medical history, how well you can handle medical treatments, and the length of your condition.
It might not be necessary to remove cataracts right away. If they are in the earliest stages, then you can choose whether you want to live with them until the symptoms become severe enough to interfere with your vision on a broader level.
In the early stages of cataracts, sometimes treatment is as simple as changing your prescription eyeglasses, using stronger lighting, or having a magnifying glass on hand. However, once you find that these accommodations are no longer helpful, you might talk to the eye doctor about the only available treatment option: cataract surgery.
Surgery for Cataract Removal
Cataracts are quite common, so it’s no surprise that cataract removal surgery is one of the highest performed surgeries in the United States.
The good news is that this procedure can restore your vision. Of course, as with any other surgical treatment, there are always potential risks. But the success rates are high among patients who choose cataract surgery.
For example, one potential complication from cataract surgery is the development of an “after-cataract.” This means that the doctor intentionally left a clear part of the lens in your eye, and the remaining portion starts clouding over in the future.
This post-surgery condition can happen months or years after having cataract surgery. If an after-cataract occurs, then laser treatment can be used to create a small hole that allows the light to come into the eye and reach the retina.
Consult with an Eye Care Expert
Regardless of the type of eye conditions you are living with, working with an experienced eye care team is the best thing you can do to maintain the best vision for life. Our eye doctors offer full-service solutions for patients of all ages, including cataract diagnosis and treatment.