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Cataract Symptoms: Early Signs & Causes Behind Their Development

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We see it all the time in older adults who begin to make small changes in the way they choose to interact with the world. They may turn the lights up more at night, choose to not drive at night, or complain that they can never get their glasses fully clean. At first, this will seem innocent enough and while it may be mildly annoying, it won’t seem like much. You may even contribute them to your existing nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Here is what you need to know about cataracts and their symptoms.

How Do You Know if You Have a Cataract?

If your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy in places, this is called a cataract. You know that you have a cataract if your vision feels like you’re looking through a fogged-up window or frosted glass. Any of your usual activities that require visual sharpness, such as reading, seeing an expression, or driving at night will become difficult to do over time. 

How Do You Get Cataracts?

The most common way to get cataracts is through injury changes in the tissue of your eye’s lens or just from aging.  However, there are some genetic disorders that can increase your risk of cataracts, and medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol reduction medication (Statin).  Other causes that contribute to the formation of cataracts include

  • Previous eye surgery
  • Illness in the eye (other eye conditions)
  • Long-term use of steroid medications
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Extreme nearsightedness
  • Significant alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

And the prolonged use of corticosteroids.

What Are Cataract Signs & Symptoms?

There are many different types of cataracts and that can affect the symptoms someone has. The symptoms you have may vary depending on the location of the cataract. The most common symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Cloudy/foggy vision
  • Difficulty reading books
  • Night vision problems
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Seeing defined halos around lights
  • Having double vision in one eye
  • Your vision may temporarily improve – this is called second sight
  • Colors that are less vibrant or more yellow in appearance
  • Needing frequent changes made to your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription

What Are The Early Signs of Cataracts?

In the early stages of this progressive disease, you may get any of the symptoms listed above, but they may appear irregularly, might only be mildly annoying, or may even mimic another pre-existing condition. This is because there are several eye conditions that can cause your vision to become blurry, foggy, or sensitive to light. Any of the symptoms below can be taken as an early warning sign of cataracts.

  1. Hazy Vision. Your vision becomes hazier which may seem like the progression of your existing eye condition. If your glasses always seem “dirty” or you can’t get clear vision despite cleaning your glasses or using visual aids, then this is an early warning sign.
  1. Fuzziness in Vision. If you have blind spots in your vision, can’t get your contact lenses clean, or have vision obscurity in small ways.
  1. Needing More Light. While cataracts often cloud or obscure the lens, they can also darken it, leading to the need for more light to perform tasks. If you find yourself turning up the lights at night, at dusk, or at dawn, this is an early warning sign.
  1. Dimmed Colors. If colors seem less vibrant or seem to be more yellow in their hue, this is an early sign of cataract development. However, this may not show up until much later if you do not have any other vision problems.
  1. Increased Light Sensitivity. If you find yourself squinting at the sun more often, or at your smartphone when it lights up, this is another early warning sign. While it can also be indicative of other eye conditions like glaucoma, it is a good idea to go and get it checked out. A lot of individuals will notice this first when driving at night because the headlights will seem excessively bright.
  1. Light Halos/Glares. Do you see glares coming off lights or halos around them? Do you have a general fogginess around your sight or have a hard time getting your vision to be clear? Is your sight worse at night? If so, these are another early warning sign.

Since cataracts develop slowly, it is important to have regular eye exams done. This way, your optometrist or ophthalmologist can keep track of your eye condition to ensure that any symptoms you have are from your pre-existing condition and are not from the development of cataracts. It should be noted that often times people confuse cataracts with glaucoma so here is an article that will help you understand the difference.  

To learn more about cataract symptoms and what you can do to slow them down, please contact us today by filling out our contact form to get in touch.

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About the Author Written by Dr. Michael Shumski, M.D., M.S.E.

Dr. Shumski is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in cataract & refractive surgery at Magruder Laser Vision in central Florida.

In service for many years to treat cataract patients

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