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

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on April 10, 2023
2 min read

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.

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

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 or ghosted vision).
  • Colors don’t look as bright as they used to.

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.

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

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

Sometimes, a prescription for new eyeglasses may improve vision that's affected by 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.