A Clearer View

Latest treatment options and news about cataracts, dry eye syndrome and other eye care topics.

How Do Cataracts Impact Vision?

by Damion Wasylow 17 October 2022 12:51 PM

senior man with cataracts struggles to read computer screen
More than half of Americans over age 80 have or have had cataracts, but even those in their 40s or younger can be affected by this condition. While changes in vision are common as you age, it’s important to understand how cataracts affect your sight. Knowing the signs and symptoms will help you determine whether you or a loved one should see an ophthalmologist.

Early Signs

Often, one of the first signs of cataracts is frequent changes to your eyeglass or contact lens prescription. The prescription that served you well in the past suddenly doesn’t provide the same clarity. At this stage, you may be able to simply work with your optometrist to update the prescription, but as symptoms progress, surgery will be necessary.

Cloudy or Blurry Vision

Cataracts start out small and may initially only have a minor impact on your vision. Things may seem only slightly blurry at first, but that blurriness will progress. Your vision may also become cloudy and dim.

Double Vision

As your lens becomes cloudier, light diffraction can make it seem like you’re seeing double. Cataracts are known to cause double vision, but it’s important to note that many other medical conditions can also have this effect, including brain tumors, stroke, multiple sclerosis and corneal swelling, among others. Don’t risk self-diagnosis. Talk to your doctor about any recurring issues with double vision.

Light Sensitivity and Halos

Light sensitivity is a common side effect of cataracts. Glares from bright lights can be painful, especially for those with posterior subcapsular cataracts. These cataracts start to develop at the back of the lens, blocking light and making it more difficult to read. 

Along with light sensitivity, many people begin to see halos around lights. These rings, which sometimes manifest in a variety of colors, can make it dangerous to drive at night. 

Lens Discoloration

Over time, cataracts darken, producing a brown or yellow tint on the lens. This discoloration may impact your night vision, making it more difficult to drive safely at night. In more advanced stages, it may also be visible to loved ones and others who look at your eyes.

Determining When to Have Cataract Surgery

It’s wise to see an ophthalmologist if you experience any of the symptoms outlined above. Your ophthalmologist will assess the progression of your cataracts to help you determine when surgery is necessary. 

Surgery may not be required at the time of your diagnosis, so long as your cataracts do not substantially impact your vision, and therefore, quality of life. A stronger eyeglass or contact lens prescription may be sufficient to get you back to your normal routine.

Cataracts inevitably get worse over time, however, and left untreated, will eventually rob you of your sight completely.

Generally, cataract surgery is recommended when a person’s cataracts cause significant vision loss or severely affect quality of life. Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest surgeries in the world, so there’s no reason to delay the procedure once it’s needed. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing cataract symptoms, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule an examination.



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