5 Ways to Recognize Cataracts


We recently talked about how cataract surgery can reduce the risk of hip-injury causing falls in seniors. But since vision loss caused by cataracts often comes on gradually, many seniors may not realize they have a problem with their vision until it begins affecting their life adversely – making it difficult to drive or read or causing falls in the home.

Since 80 percent of people who need cataract surgery are age 65 and older, and by age 80, half of all Americans will have either had cataracts or experienced cataract surgery, this topic affects seniors profoundly.

Let’s explore five common symptoms of cataracts, which could indicate a need to seek treatment.

Difficulty Seeing at Night, Especially While Driving
Many people don’t seek treatment for their cataracts until they notice it’s becoming hard to drive, especially at night. This is due to a number of cataract symptoms.

Headlights and streetlights may cause a glare or appear to have halos around them, making it difficult to drive. Seeing at night may become more difficult, in general. And one or both eyes may have double vision, making it difficult to perceive the actual location of objects.

Natural sunlight, as well as artificial lights, may also cause a glare because of the way the cataract breaks up light before it reaches the eye’s retina. If you’re experiencing this symptom of cataracts, wearing sunglasses may help improve your vision until surgery is prescribed.

Difficulty Distinguishing Colors
Because cataracts block light from hitting the retina, colors may appear washed out or faded. As cataracts progress, the colors blue, black and purple may all look the same. Eventually, it will be hard to detect any difference in colors or contrast, at all.

Increasing Nearsightedness
In the early stages of cataracts, you may notice that your prescription lenses for distance aren’t as effective. Your required prescription may grow stronger several times in quick succession.
As distance vision decreases, near-field vision may actually improve temporarily. In seniors who have been wearing reading glasses for close-up vision, this symptom is called “second sight.” But as cataracts progress, reading, as well as seeing things at a distance, becomes more difficult.

Blurred Vision
Cataracts often manifest first in blurry vision. Everything may appear as if it has a cloud cast over it. Additionally, the room may look dark even if the lights are on full power.

As cataracts progress, they can lead to blindness, with the patient only having the ability to distinguish light from dark. Fortunately, this blindness can be reversed with cataract replacement surgery, an outpatient procedure where the eye doctor uses ultrasonic vibrations to break up and remove the cataract and then implants a synthetic lens in the eye.

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