What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts? When Should I Call the Doctor?

Don’t chalk up changes in your vision to just getting older. If the world is starting to look a little hazy, you could be getting cataracts.

Simply put, it means your eye’s lens is clouding over. This condition usually affects people 60 or older, but anyone can get it. And you can have it in both eyes.

Some cataracts may not need to be treated. But for others, you’ll need surgery to get your eyesight back to normal.

What Does a Cataract Look Like?

The lens of your eye is normally clear. This allows light to pass to the back of your eye so you can see normally. But with a cataract, your lens becomes cloudy. Your vision gets hazy, and it feels like you’re looking at the world though a dirty or smudged window.

If your cataract is advanced, you may even be able to see a whitish or gray film over your eye when you look in the mirror.

What Are the Symptoms?

Cataracts aren’t painful. You’ll know you need to get your eyes checked if, along with clouded vision, the world around you just doesn’t look the way it should.

  • It’s hard to see at night.
  • You’re sensitive to light.
  • Light sources have “halos.”
  • You see things in twos, and they may overlap (double vision).
  • Colors don’t look as bright as they used to.

Do These Symptoms Come on All at Once?

No. It may seem, early on, that cloudy vision affects only a small part of your lens. You may not even know there’s a problem. But in most cases, cataracts continue to grow. When they become larger, your vision gets more and more blurry.

What’s more, the lens of your eye -- which is normally clear -- may turn a yellowish or brownish color. The world may start to look like a very old photograph. That can make it hard to perform everyday tasks.

When Do I Need to See a Doctor?

Anytime you notice a change in vision. To diagnose a cataract, your doctor will give you a very thorough eye exam. He’ll also give you eye drops so he can dilate your pupils.

Your doctor will then examine your entire eye and perform several different tests. Based on these results, he’ll tell you what he believes will be the best course of action.

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Can My Symptoms Be Treated?

Sometimes, a prescription for new eyeglasses may improve a cataract in the early stages. But over time, they may not be enough to restore good vision.

Your eye doctor may advise you to use brighter lighting for daily tasks, anti-glare sunglasses, or even magnifying lenses -- all of which may help with your symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on September 24, 2016

Sources

SOURCES :

CDC: “Common Eye Disorders.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cataracts.”

National Eye Institute: “Facts About Cataract.”

Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: “Cataract Care.”

National Eye Institute: “Facts About Cataract.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Cataract Diagnosis.”

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