With age, it’s normal to experience visual changes. One of the most common changes comes from cataracts.
Cataracts are a prevalent age-related condition. Most people will develop cataracts at some point in their lifetime.
They form inside the natural lens, which is supposed to be clear and transparent. However, when you have a cataract, it becomes cloudy.
As a cataract develops and grows, the lens only grows more cloudy, leading to more visual impairment. You can start developing cataracts as early as your forties or fifties, and they are most common in adults over 40.
But even if you have a cataract, it can take many years to develop. Many people have cataracts for years without realizing it.
They only discover they have cataracts once they experience noticeable changes to their vision. Ideally, you should know if you have cataracts even before you develop symptoms because you have regular eye exams. Your eye doctor can then monitor their progression and recommend cataract surgery when appropriate.
When you know if you have cataracts, it can also be easier to attribute your vision problems to your cataracts rather than other age-related conditions like presbyopia. But to do that, you must know how cataracts affect your vision.
To that end, keep reading to learn about 6 signs that your vision problems may be due to cataracts!
1. Blurry Vision
The natural lens in your eye is like a window. When you have cataracts, that window becomes foggy.
The more developed your cataracts become, the foggier the window gets. It’s hard to see through a foggy window, just as it’s harder to see when you have cataracts.
Your vision becomes blurry, making it much harder to see the things around you clearly as your cataracts become more advanced. Blurry vision from cataracts is often mistaken for an existing refractive error worsening.
Some people with cataracts will try getting stronger prescriptions to improve their vision. But getting a new, stronger prescription won’t correct your vision because glasses and contact lenses only correct refractive errors.
Unfortunately, if you have cataracts, these visual aids will no longer improve your vision. If you want to see clearly and no longer have blurry vision due to cataracts, the only solution is to have cataract surgery.
2. Glare and Halos
Cataracts make you see halos around light sources and increase the glare that you see from light sources. This effect is especially apparent at night.
People with advanced cataracts often experience intense glare from street lights and headlights when driving at night. If it starts feeling unsafe to drive at night because of these visual aberrations, find a trusted friend or family member who can take you where you need to go until you can have cataract surgery and regain your independence.
3. Difficulty Seeing in Low Light
Cataracts make it harder to see in low light. Completing fine-focus tasks like reading may become more challenging unless you have a direct light.
Many patients who have cataracts mistake this symptom for presbyopia. Presbyopia is another age-related eye condition that occurs when the lens loses flexibility, making it harder to focus and see things up close.
Many cataract patients also have presbyopia, but when you have cataracts, it’s easier to do these up-close tasks when you have more light. If you need plenty of light to see up close, it’s likely a sign that it’s due to cataracts and not presbyopia.
4. Increased Light Sensitivity
While it can be hard to see if you don’t have enough light, cataracts make your eyes more sensitive to light, no matter what setting you’re in. You may struggle to keep your eyes open when you’re around bright lights, especially at night.
Combined with poor night vision and increased glare and halos from lights, it can be tough to drive after dark when you have advanced cataracts. If you struggle driving at night because headlights from other cars seem blinding, there’s a good chance it’s due to your cataracts.
5. Trouble Seeing Contrast
Cataracts make it harder to see the full range of color. The world may appear more yellow, and you may have trouble spotting objects against similarly colored backgrounds.
If you have trouble distinguishing between colors when looking at different color swatches— and you’ve never been diagnosed with color blindness— it’s likely because of cataracts.
6. Injuring Yourself Due to Poor Vision
Patients with cataracts often injure themselves more frequently due to their declining vision. As it becomes more challenging to see what’s around you, you may find that this happens more and more.
Cataracts make it hard to see due to blurry vision, and they also make it harder to see in the dark. When you can’t see well, it becomes far more likely that you’ll be involved in an accident, even if it only occurs in your home.
You may trip and fall when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or you may accidentally cut your finger while cooking. You may even get into a car accident if you struggle to drive at night. These are all signs that not only your vision problems are likely due to cataracts but also that it’s time for treatment.
When to Get Treatment
Cataract surgery is the only treatment for cataracts. Cataract surgeons recommend cataract surgery once your cataracts affect your quality of life.
If you’re struggling to complete daily tasks due to the symptoms listed above, it’s time to consider cataract surgery. Talk to your eye doctor about your cataracts.
They can help you determine the best time for cataract surgery. If you’re ready to live life cataract-free, schedule an appointment at St. Luke’s at The Villages for a cataract surgery consultation. Take the first step towards seeing the world in crystal-clear clarity again!