While an ideal situation would involve our vision remaining 20/20 for the entirety of our lives, the harsh reality is that it usually deteriorates with age. The majority of the world’s population will, at some point or other, experience a decline in vision enough to require the use of glasses or contact lenses. Thankfully, corrective lenses are no longer viewed as undesirable. Modern society has normalized these vision aids to the point that they are now considered fashion accessory must-haves. Sometimes people experience vision changes that glasses or contact lenses cannot correct. If your vision is becoming increasingly blurry and you are noticing more glare, you may have a cataract. It is important to see your optometrist to determine the cause so you can get the proper treatment.
What Is a Cataract? A cataract is a buildup of protein in your eye that obscures your vision. Proteins are normal; your eye is even made out of them. However, if proteins begin to clump up in your eye's crystalline lens, they can reduce the amount of light getting through the lens and to your retina. This creates a blur in your vision which often gets worse over time. Cataracts can make your vision worse than many common vision problems. If you do have a cataract, proper knowledge and treatment can minimize the issue. Use this blog to get a better understanding of cataracts, and learn to keep them from interfering with your vision. What Symptoms Do Cataracts Cause? The symptoms of cataracts vary depending on the size and type of cataract. The early signs of a cataract can seem like other eye problems, while late-stage cataracts cause more distinct symptoms. Serious complications are prevented through early detection – so make sure you have your optometrist check for this early and often. Below is a list of cataract symptoms, ordered from early and minor symptoms, to later and more severe ones. Blurry Vision A small blur marks the very first sign of a cataract. The cataract is so small, the blur might not become noticeable for some time. This is especially true if you have other vision problems. However, as the buildup becomes larger, your vision will become cloudier. Discoloured Lens As cataracts become larger, they slowly change the colour of your eye. Cataracts cause a yellow and brown tinge to appear in your eye lens. This change in colour affects eyesight, such as your ability to see colours like blue or purple. It's often hard to notice this as it is such a gradual change. Increased Glare Cataracts distort light that comes into your eye, increasing glare. Direct light from the sun, lamps, light bulbs, or car headlights can seem blinding. In addition, you can also see a rings of light, often named halos, form around light sources. Less Night Vision The increase of glare also affects your night vision. Your eye loses its ability to adjust to changes in light after dusk. As a result, you might experience difficulties while driving due to oncoming traffic. Your night vision might become so poor that it could prevent you from driving, or doing other nighttime activities. Prescription Changes and Myopic Shift People with cataracts can experience large and frequent changes to their corrective lens prescription. In addition, older people with farsightedness also experience a myopic shift. Also known as second sight, myopic shifts cause people to switch from farsightedness to nearsightedness. Unfortunately, this improvement in vision is only temporary. Double Vision Cataracts cause light to bend as it moves into your eye. As a result, you can develop double vision in your eye. Blindness Left untreated, cataracts can eventually cause blindness. While rare in the industrialized world, cataracts cause more blindness than any other ailment in the rest of the world. Luckily, cataracts don't cause as much blindness in Canada due to our easy access to treatment and surgery. How Can I Prevent Cataracts? Unfortunately, scientists have been unable to determine the exact cause of cataracts. However, research has shown certain risk factors exist which increases the likelihood of cataracts. Those risks include:
Major alcohol consumption
If you avoid or mitigate these risks, you can prevent, or at least delay, the onset of cataracts. You can't change your genetics, but you can protect your eyes with sunglasses, choose not to smoke or be around second-hand smoke, and keep a healthy, active lifestyle. What Cataract Treatments Are Available? While cataracts disrupt eye vision, if you detect them early enough, they won't become an urgent problem. In the beginning stages, often new glasses can improve your vision. However, surgery is the only way to cure cataracts. The procedure is relatively simple and one of the most common surgeries in Canada. The surgery removes the blurry lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. Patients often only need to wear reading glasses after cataract surgery, even if they've worn glasses their entire life! Do You Have a Cataract? If you think you’re experiencing some of the symptoms associated with cataracts, you should strongly consider visiting an optometrist to receive a diagnosis.