Cataracts are extremely common. Usually, they are something that’s associated with age.
They form in the eye’s natural lens when the cells that compose the lens become slightly opaque. This causes the lens to become cloudy.
Cataracts tend to develop slowly over a period of years, making it difficult to tell if you even have them. The only way to know you have them is to have an eye exam from a professional. But there are symptoms you can and should be aware of.
Many people will get cataracts at some point in their life, some earlier than others. There’s no way to prevent cataracts. There are a variety of factors that put you at higher risk for developing them. These include:
- Being over 40
- Tobacco use
- UV damage from overexposure to sunlight
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Traumatic eye injury
- Extended use of corticosteroid medication
Some of these factors are avoidable to lower your risk, but some are not. If any of these factors apply to you, you should have regular eye exams so any cataracts you may develop can be spotted early.
Cataract symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Intense glare
- Seeing halos around light sources
- Trouble seeing in low light
- Difficulty seeing contrast
- Light sensitivity
- Seeing double vision in one eye (monocular double vision)
These symptoms are usually subtle at first as cataracts develop slowly. Often, symptoms may be mistaken for presbyopia, which is age-related farsightedness.
Many people with cataracts also have presbyopia as they are both associated with age. When you have cataracts, you may have trouble reading or doing other fine motor tasks.
This is because it’s harder to see without direct light, but this may be mistaken as not being able to see as well up close. The distinction can be hard to make especially if you also have more trouble seeing up close due to presbyopia as well.
There are some more clear signs that you have cataracts as they develop. For instance, driving at night can be very hard for people with advanced cataracts.
Driving at night can become very dangerous. This is due to decreased ability to see in low light, glare from headlights, and sensitivity to lights from headlights and other road lights.
This is a clear sign of cataracts. You don’t want to wait until you find you’re putting yourself in danger driving at night to get a cataract diagnosis.
Ideally, you should have your cataracts diagnosed while they’re still in early development. That way, they can be monitored and you can tell when they start to cause visual problems. This is why it’s important to have regular eye exams once you turn 40.
After receiving a diagnosis of cataracts, your doctor may or may not recommend treatment right away. The only way to treat cataracts is with cataract surgery.
This involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Because cataracts develop slowly, it may take years before they present any real symptoms.
As a result of this, you don’t usually need cataract surgery if they’re diagnosed in the early stages. Doctors recommend you have cataract surgery when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life. At that point, cataract surgery can do wonders for your eyesight by restoring any lost vision due to cataracts.
Concerned that you may have cataracts? Schedule a cataract screening at Sierra Nevada Eye Center in Carson City, NV to find out!