Have you been experiencing vision loss or problems with your vision? There’s a chance you may be developing a cataract.
A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens within your eye. It can make it seeing clearly difficult, as it often causes blurry vision. Symptoms may not be noticeable at first. The symptoms can be like that of other eye conditions, making it difficult to diagnose without the help of a professional.
There are many different types of cataracts, such as:
Pediatric Cataract, or Congenital Cataracts
Secondary Cataract, or Posterior Subcapsular Cataract
Each type affects a different layer of the lens.
Congenital cataracts are cataracts that occur in infants due to a birth defect. The most common type of cataracts are nuclear cataracts. This type develops due to age, causing the center of the cornea to appear yellow or brown.
A posterior subcapsular cataract occurs in the back outer layer of the eye’s lens. A cortical cataract affects the edges of the lens in the eye, appearing spoke-like. Cortical cataracts reach from the edge of the lens to the center.
Now that you understand what a cataract is, let's take a closer look at the most common cataract signs and symptoms.
Blurry vision from a cataract will progress over time, causing you to feel like you’re looking through a foggy car window. This can impact your everyday life, especially while driving or reading.
Have you bought some brighter lamps recently? Read the restaurant menu with your phone’s flashlight? As cataracts develop, you may find yourself needing a brighter environment for everyday tasks. As a result, your ability to see at night is also affected by the cataracts.
Although you may need more light to see, it’s possible you’ll also experience sensitivity to light. People with cataracts may notice that lights can cause a debilitating glare. This is especially dangerous when driving at night.
If you've had to make one or more changes to your lens prescription recently, this may be due to developing cataracts.
Do headlights bother you when you drive at night or on cloudy days? Cataracts can cause halos or glares to appear around bright lights.
Instead of seeing bright colors as they normally are, cataracts can make them appear dull or yellow.
Cataracts can sometimes cause you to see double images, making it difficult to perform your everyday activities.
Cataracts most commonly develop due to aging, usually beginning after the age of 40. Proteins in the eye start to group together, creating a cloudy cataractous lens.
Over time, the cataract grows larger making it more difficult to see. It’s possible to have cataracts develop in both of your eyes. In this case, it’s common to see the cataracts develop at different rates.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing cataracts include:
Spending time in the sun without wearing sunglasses
History of eye surgeries
Using steroids, a medication used for many health problems such as arthritis
Phenothiazine drugs, a medication used for conditions like bipolar disorder
There are many ways to treat cataracts. Your doctor may recommend wearing special eyeglasses, using eye drops, or correction through cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common eye surgeries performed, proving to be a safe and effective treatment option. According to a JAMA Ophthalmology study, the median age for having cataract surgery in the United States is 67.7 years old.
During cataract surgery, the eye doctor will replace the cloudy lens in your eye with a new clear artificial lens. Once your eye heals, you’ll be back to seeing clearly.
Any time you experience cataract signs and symptoms, you should set an appointment with an eye doctor.
Sometimes, cataracts do not require any immediate treatment. Your eye doctor may want you to return for follow-up appointments and monitoring. They may also recommend an update to your vision prescription. Other times, your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens to improve your vision.
It’s also possible that you’re experiencing a different eye condition that has similar symptoms to a cataract. Seeing your trusted eye doctor will help you rule out any eye conditions or determine treatment.
The team at EyeCare Associates specializes in eye diseases and ocular conditions. Routine eye exams allow our doctors to provide you with your best vision possible. If you are diagnosed with a cataract, we will work with you to determine the best treatment option for your eyes.