Did you know that 4.2 million Americans aged 40 and over suffer from uncorrectable vision impairment that led some to go blind?
In most cases, vision problems can be corrected if they are caught early enough. For example, cataracts might cause someone to go blind if the problem is not dealt with.
What many don’t know is that cataracts can happen to people of any age even though they are more common in older adults. For this reason and more, everyone can benefit from knowing the early signs of cataracts.
Read on to learn the signs to watch out for.
Cataracts are small and grow slowly, so they will not affect your vision right away. As time goes on, cataracts grow and start impacting the way that you see.
Although this is one of the signs of cataracts, you won’t know about it early on unless you opt for frequent eye exams. Once you start to notice vision changes, you’ll experience the following symptoms:
- Cloudy vision
- Blurry vision
- Faded vision
You might also become sensitive to light if you have cataracts. Some people say that they notice a glare or halo around lights.
If normal levels of light seem too strong for your vision or you are seeing double, you probably have a cataract. Double vision occurs because cataracts make it harder for light to enter your eyes.
Double vision might be due to the following as well:
- Brain tumor
- Corneal swelling
- Multiple sclerosis
If you are experiencing double vision but are unsure of the cause, consult your eye doctor first to rule out cataracts.
Trouble Driving at Night
Another one of the symptoms of cataracts is difficulty driving at night. When you have a cataract, it’s not easy to tell the difference between light and dark.
Those with cataracts might get headaches when looking at street lamps or headlights while driving at night. Some also see halos around lights at night when driving.
This is not only concerning for your vision, but it can also make driving more dangerous. If you experience this symptom, it is best to avoid the road unless someone else is driving you.
Needing Stronger Light
If you’re diagnosing cataracts on your own, you might notice that you require stronger light to focus. However, this is not always a sign of cataracts so it is best to get diagnosed by a professional.
Common activities that require detail and require people to need more light include reading and sewing. Increasing the amount of light you use works in the beginning, but once your cataracts grow, this solution won’t help.
One of the other signs and symptoms of cataracts after they mature includes discoloration. Colors might look less intense or faded. An example of this would be seeing a yellow-looking piece of clothing that you know is really white.
More mature cataracts can be brown or yellow. The color often depends on the type of cataract that you have. This can alter the way you see things and cause items to look brown or yellow as well.
If you notice sudden nearsightedness or other changes that require a new prescription for glasses, the cause might be cataracts. As cataracts mature, vision changes do too.
What Causes a Cataract?
There aren’t a lot of early signs of cataracts as many people don’t notice them until they begin to mature. Yet, some things can speed up a cataract’s formation including:
- Medications that treat lupus and arthritis
- Phenothiazine drugs used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
- Eye injuries
- Eye surgery
- Upper body radiation treatment
- Spending time in the sun without protecting your eyes
It is also typical to get cataracts as you age. The lens of the eye is made up of mostly proteins and water. When proteins break down, they can hang around your eye and make your lens cloudy.
Types of Cataracts
You might ask yourself, “do I have cataracts?”, and now that you know the symptoms, you’ll know when to see an eye doctor. There isn’t only one type of cataract. In fact, three main types affect different parts of the lens.
1. Nuclear Sclerotic Cataract
A nuclear sclerotic cataract affects the center of the lens of the eye. It refers to the hardening of the nucleus that happens in the later stages of this cataract.
During the earlier stages, the lens will turn yellow and look cloudy. The progression of this cataract changes the eye’s ability to see clearly and focus.
2. Cortical Cataract
A cortical cataract affects the outer edges of the lens with white cloudiness. The edges of the lens are known as the cortex. The cloudiness spreads inward and might have a star or spoke wheel pattern.
The condition scatters light that enters the eye and causes glare and blurred vision. Someone with a cortical cataract might also have a hard time judging contrast and depth perception.
3. Posterior Subcapsular Cataract
Posterior subcapsular cataracts start small on the back or underside of the lens capsule. They’ll turn into a cloudy or opaque area.
The lens capsule is a sac-like membrane that holds the lens in place and encapsulates it. This condition develops faster than others and patients tend to notice symptoms within the first few months of development.
The most common symptoms one experiences when they have a posterior subcapsular cataract are glares and halos around lights and difficultly reading.
Seeing Your Doctor After Experiencing Signs of Cataracts
Cataracts happen more commonly in older adults, but someone could develop a cataract at any age. The signs of cataracts often involve significant vision changes such as glares, cloudiness, new prescriptions, etc.
Not every type of cataract develops at a fast pace. The only way to catch a cataract in its early stages is by getting regular eye exams.
At Kentucky Eye Institute, we help patients with eye health and eye care. Make an appointment with us today for an eye exam or cataract surgery.