Among all of the eye problems that can affect your vision as you age, cataracts are one of the most common. Cataracts are cloudy areas that develop on the lenses in your eyes, making it harder and harder to see clearly. Knowing the signs of cataracts and what might cause them can help you determine when you should have your eyes checked for this condition.
Common Cataract Symptoms
The signs of cataracts might not show up right away but may develop gradually as cloudiness worsens. If you have any of these signs, you should make sure you have an eye exam done soon:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Colors appearing faded or yellowish
- Increased light sensitivity
- Need for more lighting while reading
- Problems with night driving, such as glare from headlights
Cataract Causes and Risk Factors
Your eyes change while you get older, which increases your risk of having cataracts. As proteins inside your lens breaks down, cloudiness can form and affect your vision. Cataracts make it more difficult for light to pass through eye lenses in order to see things clearly.
Your risk of cataracts goes up as you age, especially if you’re 60 or older. Keep in mind that you might start having symptoms when you’re younger, such as in your 40s or 50s. Other factors that can increase your risk include a family history of cataracts, diabetes or other underlying health conditions, previous eye injuries and exposure to the sun’s UV rays over the years.
Cloudy or blurry vision
Trouble seeing at night
“Halos” around bright lights
Sensitivity to bright light & glare
Need for brighter lights for close-up activities
Double vision in one eye
A fading or yellowing of colors
If you find that the prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses needs frequent adjustment, this can be an indicator that your cataracts are advancing. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, consider seeing an ophthalmologist.
At Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas, our experienced ophthalmologists have a number of tests they can use to determine whether you have a cataract, including:
- Visual acuity test: This test is the one you’re probably most familiar with, and involves an ophthalmologist using a letter chart to assess how well you can see at a distance. This may also include a glare test in which the doctor introduces lights that simulate the effects of sunlight or nighttime glare.
- Slit-lamp examination: This test allows an ophthalmologist to observe the cornea, lens, and iris of your eye with a slit-lamp or microscope to detect if there’s any clouding.
- Retinal exam: This test involves an ophthalmologist dilating your eyes, enabling them to examine the backs of the eyes with a slit-lamp or ophthalmoscope.
Other testing options include the use of WaveScan technology, which determines the unique topography of your eyes, and the use of a Pentacam, a camera that takes thousands of pictures of your eye in a matter of seconds, showing your doctor the distinct shape, structure, and thickness of your cornea. In most cases, the screening process takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Slowing the Progress of Cataracts
Though there’s no way to prevent cataracts once they’ve begun to form, there are things you can do to slow their progress, including:
- Quitting smoking.
- Eating a diet of foods that boost eye health, including leafy greens, orange-colored vegetables, fruits like cherries and strawberries, and fish like salmon.
- Managing and/or treating conditions like diabetes that can accelerate a cataract’s development.
- Wearing sunglasses when outside to block harmful UV rays.
- Regularly visiting an eye doctor so that you’re able to detect cataracts — or any other eye issues — as early as possible.
Even when you’re doing everything “right,” cataracts can still sneak up on you. Check out the video below to hear real cataract patients describe their experiences:
If any of these stories sound familiar, consider performing this quick self-test to determine if your symptoms may be signs of a cataract:
60 Second Cataract Screener
Take our Cataract Self-Test to find out if cataract surgery will help you get back to seeing – and living your life.
Cataracts can interfere with a number of your favorite activities, but you don’t have to wait until your vision is completely impaired to have them removed. Get in touch with our experienced team of cataract specialists today.
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