Common symptoms of cataract include:
- a painless blurring of vision;
- glare, or light sensitivity;
- poor night vision;
- double vision in one eye;
- needing a brighter light to read;
- colors looking faded or yellow.
The cloudiness and pattern of a cataract can vary. If the cloudiness is to the side of your field of vision, you may not be aware that you have a cataract.
There are many misconceptions about cataract. Cataract is not a film over the eye. Cataract is not caused by overusing the eyes. A cataract does not spread from one eye to the other, nor is it a cause of irreversible blindness.
How quickly the cataract develops varies among individuals and may even be different between the two eyes. Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years.
Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a short time. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.
Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. However, if symptoms of cataract are not bothering you, surgery may not be needed. Sometimes a simple change in your eyeglass prescription may be helpful. Also, wearing glasses and sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light may help slow the progression of cataracts.
Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure. Improved vision is the result in more than 95% of cases, unless there is a problem with the cornea, retina, optic nerve or other structures.
Cataract surgery can be performed when your visual needs require it. During cataract surgery the cloudy lens is removed from the eye. In most cases, a permanent intraocular lens is implanted.
Your Eye M.D. will ask you if your vision allows you to perform daily tasks such as cooking, shopping, or taking medications without difficulty. Based on your symptoms, you and your Eye M.D. should decide together when surgery is appropriate.
Other conditions may prevent you from having much or any improvement in vision after cataract surgery. Your Eye M.D. can tell you how much visual improvement is likely. If improvement in your vision is unlikely, cataract removal may not be recommended.
No medications, dietary supplements or exercises have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts.
By performing a thorough eye examination, your ophthalmologist can detect the presence of a cataract. A careful exam will also rule out any other conditions.
Problems with other parts of the eye (such as the cornea, retina or optic nerve) can be responsible for vision loss.
The most common type of cataract is related to aging. In an age-related cataract, the center of the lens gradually hardens and becomes cloudy. It may become so cloudy that your Eye M.D. cannot clearly see the details of the retina. At that point, you might experience difficulty identifying colors and seeing at a distance.
Other causes of cataract include:
- family history of cataracts;
- medical problems, like diabetes;
- injury to the eye;
- medications, especially steroids;
- long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight;
- previous eye surgery.