Cataracts are a common cause of vision loss among older women and men. In fact, nearly 25 million Americans aged 40 and older have cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and by the time you reach age 75, you have a 50% chance of having a cataract or having had surgery to treat one.
Cataracts form when proteins in your eye's natural lens clump together, preventing light from reaching the retina at the back of your eye. While other factors, such as eye surgery or injury, can also cause cataracts, age-related changes inside the eye are the most common cause.
Most times, cataract symptoms develop very slowly, which means they can be hard to detect on your own. Having regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to spot cataracts early, so you can plan for their treatment before vision loss interferes with your life.
At Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, offers state-of-the-art cataract treatment to help patients see their best at every age. Here are four early symptoms of cataracts that every person should know about.
1. Blurry vision
For people with good eyesight, “seeing” happens so naturally that not much thought is usually given to it. But, sight is a complex process.
To see things, light first enters the front of the eye through the iris. It then passes through the lens to the retina at the back of the eye. The retina then collects this information and sends it to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain then interprets the nerve signals to give us images.
Cataracts cloud the lens so some of the light is prevented from reaching the retina. As a result, the images we see may be blurry or cloudy.
Blurry vision can happen for other reasons, too, including age-related presbyopia. Having an eye exam is the only way to know if cataracts are to blame or if something else is causing blurriness.
2. Problems seeing at night
Unlike cats, wolves, and foxes, human eyes aren’t generally able to see well at night. And, if you have cataracts, you may find your night vision is even worse than it is in the daytime.
At night, our eyes depend on every bit of light available to see what’s around us. Not surprisingly, if cataracts block some of that light, you may find it especially hard to see after dark. Poor night vision can make it hard to drive safely once the sun goes down, especially if you also have the next symptom on this list.
3. Sensitivity to light
While dense cataracts can block light completely, some cataracts disperse light as it enters the eyes, which means you may be especially prone to light sensitivity. Natural sunlight can be one cause of light sensitivity if you have cataracts, but oncoming car headlights and street lights can also cause glare.
Some people may see halos around car lights, street lights, or other bright lights in dim settings. Combined with night vision problems, sensitivity to light and glare can also make nighttime driving especially dangerous if you have cataracts.
4. Loss of color sharpness
Being able to see a full rainbow of beautiful hues is essential for good vision. But if you have cataracts, the cloudy lens may make seeing true, sharp colors more difficult.
Over time, you may notice that colors start to appear dull or faded. Or you may notice that everything you see has a brownish or yellowish tint as the cataract grows thicker.
Learn more about cataract treatment
While you might be able to compensate for the early, mild symptoms of cataracts, eventually, you’ll probably need to have the cloudy lens removed. Cataract surgery is very common, and it’s performed right in the office.
Dr. Belalcazar uses advanced techniques to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens, so you can see clearly again. To learn more about cataracts and how they’re treated, call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online with Dr. Belalcazar today.