How to Know if You Have Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the normally clear lens of the inner eye becomes cloudy. This cloudiness can negatively impact your vision, making it difficult to see in certain situations. If left untreated, cataracts can severely damage your eyesight and lead to vision loss and blindness.

Cataracts can be difficult to spot at first. Mostly occurring in adults over the age of 40, they develop slowly over time and can often go undiagnosed if you don’t regularly visit your eye doctor. While going to your doctor for a regular eye exam is the best way to know if you have cataracts, there are a few symptoms to watch out for to help you determine if you may have them.

Cloudy Vision

One of the main signs of cataracts is cloudy vision. When cataracts develop, your eye’s natural lens fills with loose protein. This loose protein buildup can sometimes look like a cloud, so it’s understandable it would lead to cloudy vision.

Clouded vision can lead to blurry eyesight and difficulty focusing on objects. There is a chance that only one part of your vision may be cloudy when you look in a specific direction. It’s essential to monitor your vision fully to see if you notice any cloudiness.

Dim Vision

Cataracts can dim your vision, making it difficult to see in low-light conditions. Without adequate lighting, you may feel like the world around you is dark when, in reality, it might only be dawn or dusk.

Difficulty seeing at night can be dangerous if you’re walking by yourself or driving at night. Fine details you would typically be able to see might not appear, which can increase your chances of accident or injury.

Increased Light Sensitivity

When you have cataracts, you spend more time trying to focus on objects because your eyes can’t see clearly. This time spent focusing increases your likelihood of being sensitive to light, especially when there are sudden changes in light since your eyes might not be ready for it.

Bright lights like sunlight and fluorescent bulbs can be incredibly irritating if you have cataracts.

Seeing Rings Around Lights

Cataracts can develop to a stage where they take up a more significant portion of your central vision. As they take up more space on the eye’s natural lens, light won’t be able to penetrate through the built-up protein.

When light can’t travel through your cornea, pupil, and lens properly, it can appear as though there are rings around bright lights, even if you view them through your peripheral vision.

Sudden Prescription Changes

Normally, people with refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) don’t have to change their prescription too often. However, it’s recommended they visit an eye doctor annually to check up on their prescription and any vision changes.

People with cataracts may experience more frequent changes in prescription. If your prescription needs to be changed too often, it could be a sign that cataracts are making your refractive error worse than it already is.

Having Double Vision

Double vision is just what it sounds like—seeing double. Double vision is a clear sign of cataracts as your eyes try to compensate for a lack of visual clarity due to the cloudiness on the lens. For example, when you look at a stationary object, it may seem like two are there, with one floating just behind or above the other.

Increased Discoloration

When you have cataracts, everything may appear in a yellow tone or a brown hue. You may find it challenging to see vibrant colors as dull or faded objects around you. In particular, it may become more difficult over time to tell blues and purples apart.

Difficulty Reading

Cataracts make it challenging to focus on small, fine print while reading. Someone with cataracts will often lean into the book or phone to see clearly. In particular, someone with cataracts may need a bright, direct light source to make out what they’re reading correctly.

Getting Help for Cataracts

There are a few different treatment options for cataracts. If your doctor diagnoses your cataracts early enough, they can work with you to adjust your prescription and manage your eyesight, so your condition doesn’t interfere with your vision. However, cataracts often require cataract surgery to correct.

Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens from your inner eye and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL). If you have cataracts, your doctor will get a comprehensive history of your overall health to assess if it’s the right treatment option for you.

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