Learn the signs of cataracts and how they affect your vision.
How Cataracts Form
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Most cataracts develop slowly and don't disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.1
At first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye's lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to more-noticeable symptoms.
Stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts. But if impaired vision interferes with your usual activities, you might need cataract surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.1
Find Out Why Cataract Surgery is Life Changing
Watch this video to learn how cataracts form, how they affect your vision, and how surgery can improve your eyesight and quality of life.
Signs & Symptoms
Know the Signs & Symptoms of Cataracts
A cataract starts out small and can develop slowly, taking some time for you to notice. As it begins to grow and cloud the lens of your eye, it can cause more noticeable signs and symptoms.
Common signs you might experience include:
- Your vision appears cloudy, blurry or hazy, as if you’re looking through a smudged or dirty window
- You blink or squint more frequently to improve the focus of your eyes
- You have developed double vision in your eye
- You frequently experience changes in your prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses
- You see halos surrounding lights like headlights, sunlight, or lamp light
- You don’t see colors as bright as you used to, as colors appear faded or yellowish, and you find it difficult to differentiate between colors belonging to the same color family, like purple and blue
- Your sensitivity to glare and light has increased, such as from oncoming headlights of cars while driving at night
- You now need a brighter light for your indoor activities such as reading
- You observe a grey or whitish film over your eyes while looking in the mirror
Other Eye Conditions
Correcting Other Eye Conditions
Cataract surgery is a unique opportunity to treat other eye conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. After your cataract procedure, you may even be able to reduce your dependency on glasses.
Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a common eye condition where you can see better up close than far away. You are able to see clearly when focusing on objects like reading or looking at the computer screen, but struggle to see things like street signs or objects in the distance.
Presbyopia, is a decreased ability to see nearby objects, especially in low light. Presbyopia symptoms usually start around the age of 40; however, the condition can be improved with eye surgery. proved with eye surgery.
Astigmatism is a variation in the curvature of the cornea or in the shape of the eye's lens. Astigmatism results in blurred or distorted vision at all distances, and occurs in 1 in 3 people in the U.S. Laser vision correction can address astigmatism.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your Cataract Consultation
A cataract consultation is your first step to life after cataracts
This is your opportunity to learn about treatment options and to ask your doctor any important questions.
1. Think about how you use your vision in your everyday life and explore different lens replacement options.
What do you love to do and what does your vision potentially prevent you from doing? What activities are most important to you? Answers to these questions will help you and your doctor decide the best lens replacement option for you.
2. Prepare your medical history and bring a list of medications.
Include prescriptions, over the counter medications, and vitamins. Be ready to discuss any health or eye conditions that may have impacted you or your family members.
3. Write down a list of questions.
Be prepared to ask your doctor about any questions you may have about cataracts, treatment options, surgery, and recovery.
4. Learn about the difference between laser assisted and manual cataract surgery.
You have two important decisions to make when it comes to your cataract surgery: how your new replacement lens is implanted and what type of lens is implanted. Ask your doctor what is available and what is best for you.
5. Ideally arrange for a relative or friend to attend the appointment with you.
You will receive a lot of important information at your cataract consultation, and it may be helpful to have a relative or friend by your side.
What to Expect During Your Consultation
If you are experiencing symptoms or if your eye doctor notices cataracts forming, he or she will likely refer you to an ophthalmologist, the specialist that performs cataract surgery.
During your cataract consultation, the ophthalmologist will need to understand if you fit the criteria for cataract treatment, and determine if cataracts are the issue or if something else may be impacting your vision.
Once you’ve been diagnosed and have discussed your medical history, the doctor can decide if cataract treatment is an option for you.
Sometimes, even when cataracts are found, surgery may be postponed until the cataract is mature enough that glasses or contact lenses no longer help. However, once cataracts start impacting day-to-day activities, like reading or driving, the next step is surgery.
For many people suffering from cataracts, the word “surgery” can be a bit intimidating. However, this is an opportunity to restore and improve your vision.*
Whether you’re beginning to notice symptoms, or are just planning for the future, outpatient cataract surgery is a lifechanging experience that may be worth considering.
*There are risks to routine cataract surgery. This is irrelevant to the lens you choose. The problems could be minor, temporary, or affect your vision permanently. Complications are rare. These may include are worsening of your vision, bleeding, or infection. Pre-existing diseases or conditions may place you at higher risk of experiencing complications (e.g., more difficult recovery) after routine cataract surgery. Examples of pre-existing diseases or conditions are diabetes, heart disease and previous trauma to your eye.
1.Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790. Accessed April 24,2023.