5 Early Signs of Cataracts

Man having an eye exam 5 Early Signs That You May Have Cataracts

Cataracts are a common condition that can significantly impact vision, especially as we age. Recognizing the early symptoms can lead to timely treatment and better outcomes. Here are five early signs that you might have cataracts:

1. Blurry or Clouded Vision

One of the initial symptoms of cataracts is blurred or cloudy vision. It may feel like you are looking through a foggy window, which occurs because the lens of your eye becomes less transparent, scattering light and reducing the clarity of the images your retina receives.

2. Increased Sensitivity to Light and Glare

Cataracts can make you more sensitive to light and glare. Bright sunlight or even indoor lighting may seem overly intense, and driving at night might become difficult due to the glare from oncoming headlights. This heightened sensitivity is caused by the scattering of light inside the eye.

3. Difficulty Seeing at Night

As cataracts develop, night vision often deteriorates. You may find it harder to see in low-light conditions or that you need more light to read or perform other activities. Cataracts can cause the lens to become yellowed or brownish, reducing the amount of light that reaches the retina.

4. Halos Around Lights

Another early sign of cataracts is seeing halos around lights. This effect can be particularly noticeable at night, making streetlights, headlights, and other bright points of light appear to have halos around them. This is due to light scattering as it passes through the clouded lens.

5. Frequent Changes in Prescription Glasses or Contact Lenses

If your prescription for glasses or contact lenses is changing more frequently than usual, it could be an early indication of cataracts. As cataracts progress, they can cause significant fluctuations in vision, leading to the need for new prescriptions more often.Man having an eye exam with his Optometrist

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts develop when proteins in the lens of the eye clump together, forming cloudy areas that interfere with vision. While age is the most significant risk factor, other factors like diabetes, smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight, and certain medications can also contribute to their development.

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts are primarily caused by aging, as the proteins in the lens start to break down and clump together. Other contributing factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Use of certain medications, such as steroids
  • Eye injuries or surgeries
  • Genetic predisposition

Optometrist performing an eye examHow Do You Treat Cataracts?

When cataracts start to affect your daily life, several approaches can help manage and treat the condition:

  • Lifestyle Adjustments: In the early stages, adjusting your lighting, using magnifying lenses, or wearing up to date prescription glasses can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Surgery: The most effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. This procedure is highly successful and can significantly improve vision.

What is the Wait Time for Cataract Surgery in Alberta?

The wait time for cataract surgery in Alberta can vary depending on the urgency of the case, your region, and the time of the year. On average, patients usually wait 6 to 10 months from the time of their initial consultation to the surgery date. Our team at SPEC stays connected to Ophthalmologists in the area to help you along the process. Our goal is to make the process for you stress free and timely, so we can get you seeing your best again!

How Long Between Cataract Surgery on Each Eye?

Typically, cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time. The second eye is usually operated on a few weeks after the first, allowing the first eye to heal and ensuring that the patient can still see adequately with one eye while the other recovers. The exact interval between surgeries can vary based on the patient’s recovery and the surgeon’s recommendation.

Can Cataracts Return After Surgery?

Cataracts themselves do not return after surgery, as the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. However, some patients may develop a condition known as posterior capsule opacification (PCO), which can cause vision to become cloudy again. PCO can be easily treated with a quick, non-invasive laser procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, which restores clear vision. Our Optometrists will evaluate if you are a candidate after your cataract surgery, making follow up appointments vital to maintaining your vision.

Man having an eye exam with an OptometristWhen to See a Doctor if you have Cataracts

If you notice any of these early signs, it’s essential to schedule an eye exam with an Optometrist. Early detection and treatment can help manage symptoms and improve vision quality. In some cases, lifestyle changes and prescription eyewear can help, but in more advanced cases, cataract surgery may be necessary.

Cataracts are a prevalent and treatable condition. By recognizing the early signs—blurry vision, increased sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night, halos around lights, and frequent changes in prescription eyewear—you can take proactive steps to protect your vision. Regular eye exams are crucial in detecting cataracts early and ensuring that you receive the appropriate care to maintain your eyesight and quality of life.