Signs You Might Have Cataracts
As we age, it is essential to be mindful of our health. We become more vulnerable to different illnesses, like cataracts, the older we get. So we must be aware of potential warning signs to know when the time is right to schedule a visit to the doctor.
Cataracts are an illness commonly found in older adults. More than 20 million Americans over age 40 have cataracts in one or both eyes, according to data from the CDC, so you’re not alone.
Fortunately, we have a lot of information about what cataracts are and how to treat them. Finding out you have cataracts is not nearly as scary as it used to be. So keep a close eye out for these warning signs.
Is your vision cloudy?
Your eye is normally as clear as the water at a beach resort, but a cataract is what happens when that lens clouds over, making it much more difficult to see as the illness spreads. It’ll seem sort of like trying to look through a window that is fogged over.
Initially, cataracts may only affect a small part of the lens, which can make it hard to realize your vision is decreasing. However, if you start noticing any blurriness, dimness, or things start to become cloudy, those could be signs of cataracts.
The effects will grow over time so it’s important to take action as soon as you can. In general, humans love saving things for later, especially if it involves a visit to the doctor. Cataracts can decrease your quality of life and make common activities more dangerous, so don’t take too long to act on these symptoms.
Is it harder to see at night?
Cataracts aren’t all the same and affect different parts of the lens. These include:
- Nuclear Cataracts (center of the lens)
- Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts (back of the lens)
- Cortical Cataracts (edges of the lens)
Nuclear cataracts in particular can be tricky because they could lead to a temporary increase in your reading vision. However, eventually, as it spreads the lens will take on a more yellowish tone and you’ll begin having trouble seeing.
If you start to notice any of these warning signs, make sure you take extra care when driving at night when your vision is already naturally reduced. The last thing you want is to get into a car accident. You should always prioritize safety, especially if you believe you have cataracts.
Have you started seeing halos?
Difficulty with light can be a symptom of one of the cataract types we previously went over, the posterior subcapsular. The area of the lens near the back of the eye is where light comes through, and when a cataract forms here, you’ll start seeing negative changes to your vision faster than with other types.
These include a decrease in reading vision, bright lights being less vibrant and even painful to look at, and a noticeable glare or ‘halo’ effect around lights once it gets dark.
Are you constantly changing your glasses?
It’s important to schedule an appointment to see your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision, especially if you’re getting older because it could be a sign of cataracts. This is especially true if you already rely on a visual aid.
If you frequently find yourself changing your glasses or contacts because they don’t feel strong enough, that is a sign you may have developed cataracts. Changing your prescription isn’t a long-term solution to cataracts and you’ll eventually need to get proper treatment to solve your compromised vision.
Do you have double vision?
In general, cataracts develop as a result of an injury or aging and cause a breakdown in the proteins and fibers that make up your eye’s lens.
In addition to getting older, your risk factor for developing cataracts could be caused by several other illnesses or lifestyle choices. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Drinking too much alcohol
As you probably know, any one of those could lead to a host of serious health problems, and are much riskier for older adults.
This means changes to your vision, while a potential sign of cataracts, could also be a symptom of a different and much more serious ailment.
For example, if you begin to develop double vision in one of your eyes, you could for sure have some form of cataracts. Double vision however could also be a sign of a brain tumor or stroke.
So if you notice your vision suddenly gets blurry or doubles, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible and get an exam. As much as we may not want to go, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks when it comes to your health.
What can I do about it?
Developing cataracts can be scary, but fortunately, it’s not the end of the world or your vision. If improving the strength of your glasses or using more light no longer is a viable option, you might need to get cataract surgery.
Thankfully, cataract surgery is a common procedure that is generally considered very effective and safe. If you haven’t developed cataracts yet, congratulations!
However, you should still take steps to reduce the chances that they develop. Like with most things, a healthy lifestyle will help prevent a wide variety of illnesses.
- Quitting smoking
- A balanced diet with fruits and veggies
- A reduction in alcohol consumption
- Get yearly eye exams
Making all or some of these changes can extend your life and reduce the chances of you developing cataracts and other diseases that become more common the older you get.
In addition, you can take more precautions with your vision by wearing sunglasses when you’re outside on sunny days, and getting yearly eye exams so your doctor can diagnose and treat any changes in your eyesight.
Advances in medicine will eventually produce even more ways to treat or prevent cataracts. Even now, people who develop cataracts can restore their quality of life after treatment. So if you do end up with this diagnosis, you should be better prepared to face it head-on.