Posted by: Coastal Eye Associates in Cataracts on December 29

Closeup of an eye with a cataract

Could you have cataracts?

You use the lens of your eye every day, for everything from reading to driving to bird watching. With age, the proteins inside your lens can clump together turning the lens from clear to cloudy. Certain behaviors can put you at a higher risk for getting a cataract. These include:

  • too much time in the sun without eye protection
  • smoking
  • high blood sugar
  • using steroid medications
  • exposure to radiation

According to the CDC, “over 20 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts in one or both eyes, and 6 million have had corrective surgery”. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Cloudy vision

Cataracts start small and initially may have little effect on your vision. Things might seem a little blurry. This effect usually increases over time. The world will seem cloudy, blurry, or dim.

There are three main types of cataracts, affecting different parts of the lens:

  • posterior subcapsular cataracts
  • nuclear cataracts in the center of the lens
  • cortical cataracts on the side of the lens, which appear as small streaks

Those with nuclear cataracts may briefly see their vision improve. This sensation is sometimes called “second sight.”

Impaired Night Vision

As cataracts become more advanced, they begin to darken with a yellow or brown tinge.

This begins to affect night vision and makes certain nighttime activities, such as driving, more difficult.

Light Sensitivity

Light sensitivity is another common symptom of cataracts. The glare of bright lights can be painful, especially to those with posterior subcapsular cataracts. These types of cataracts start at the back of the lens, blocking the path of light and often interfere with your reading vision.

Halos everywhere?

The clouding of the lens can result in diffraction of light entering your eye. This can cause a halo to appear around light sources. Rings around every light, sometimes in a variety of colors, can make driving very difficult. This is another reason why driving at night, especially when there are streetlights and headlights, can be dangerous if you have a cataract.

Frequently changing prescription

If you find yourself frequently needing stronger glasses or contacts, you may have cataracts. Simply buying a strong pair of reading glasses from the drugstore won’t fix the problem. See an eye doctor if your eyesight is changing rapidly. You may have cataracts or another eye condition that will benefit with prompt treatment.

Yellow tint

As cataracts progress, the clumps of protein clouding your lens may turn yellow or brownish. This results in all the light coming into your eye having a yellow tint. This changes how you see color and reduces your ability to tell the difference between colors.

Double Vision

Diffraction from the lens clouding in a cataract can lead you to see two or more images of a single object. Many things can cause double vision, also called diplopia, including:

  • brain tumor
  • corneal swelling
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke
  • cataracts

Binocular double vision, which causes two images to be visible only if both eyes are open, can be a sign of serious health concerns, including:

  • brain injury
  • uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension
  • Graves’ disease
  • myasthenia gravis

Monocular double vision, which causes multiple images to appear in one eye but not the other, is more likely to be an issue with your eye’s cornea or lens. Cataracts is a common cause of diplopia. As the cataract grows larger, this effect may go away.

Schedule an Appointment

Cataracts can cause significant changes in vision. Cataracts occur people of all ages. Injury, certain medications, and genetic conditions can result in cataracts.

It should be noted that not all vision changes are the result of cataract. Several of the above mentioned symptoms can be signs of very serious and life-threatening conditions. See your eye doctor to discuss your vision changes and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.

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