Don’t let cataracts sneak up on you — look for these warning signs so you won’t be caught by surprise.
Have you ever tried to look through an icy car window or a frosted glass? That’s comparable to the experience of cataracts.
Cataracts, or yellowing and thickening of the eyes’ lenses, are the most common cause of impaired vision among older Americans. They can either affect either one eye or both and while they’re mostly associated with aging, you’re even more likely to get them if you smoke or suffer from diabetes. Wearing glasses can help for a while, but the only definitive treatment is a surgery to replace the lens.
Cataracts can develop slowly, and first, they’re barely noticeable. If you notice one or more of these eight signs, it might be time for an eye exam.
You have difficulty driving at night
One of the first signs of cataracts is increased difficulty seeing at night, which can be especially dangerous if you’re behind the wheel of a car. Usually, when cataracts are in their early stages, bright light and sunshine can overcome the effects of the initial yellowing of the lens, making them less noticeable at first. However, when that help isn’t available at night, it will become more noticeable that cataracts are developing.
Difficulty seeing distant objects
Even in their earliest stages, cataracts can decrease overall visual acuity. That means objects that were already hard to see — namely, faraway objects — will become even more difficult to discern. If you could’ve sworn you used to have an easier time reading street signs, that may be a sign that you’re at risk for cataracts.
Blurry or dim vision
Vision dims for the same reason that seeing at night becomes difficult: the yellowing and thickening of the lens make it harder for light to get through, so objects appear less bright. The thickening of the lens also means that it’s not as flexible, which reduces the eye’s ability to focus and results in blurry vision.
Increased sensitivity to light
As cataracts become more prominent, many patients who already exhibit light sensitivity find that bright lights cause even more discomfort than before. Finding yourself frequently squinting or shielding your eyes could be a sign of cataracts.
Halos around light
Many patients begin to notice halos — sometimes colored, other times not — around light as their cataracts become more severe. This occurs because the hardening lenses cause light to bend in unusual and unpredictable ways.
Brighter light needed to read the small print
This symptom is similar to the difficulty that some patients have seeing objects at a distance. As cataracts interfere with visual acuity, anything that was already hard to see will be affected first. Small print certainly falls into that category; people who are developing cataracts may find themselves flipping on lamps or reaching for reading glasses more often.
In order to focus light properly, the eye’s tiny ciliary muscle changes the shape of the lens. However, when cataracts harden the lens, the ciliary muscles have a tougher time manipulating the lens. Sometimes, this inability to focus causes double vision.
If you’re older than 55 and you have some of these symptoms, you’re much more likely to have cataracts. If you believe that you might have cataracts, you should talk to an eye care professional about your options; there’s no need to continue living with impaired vision, and addressing concerns early is always a smart course of action. Contact the experienced vision experts at ICON Eyecare today to make an appointment.