Symptoms of Cataracts
As you age, your eyes age, too. You might wonder whether you have cataracts. Did you know that age is the most prevalent risk factor for developing cataracts? In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging, one in five people over the age of 65 already have cataracts. How can you tell if you’re one of them? What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts generally do not have symptoms in the early stages. Cataract development starts slowly and at first only affects a small part of the lens. Cataracts are not a disease but rather a normal part of aging. The eye lens is primarily composed of water and proteins. As we age, the proteins begin to break down, clump together and cloud the lens. Quite often, only one eye is affected at first. Most people have no idea they have cataracts.
Over time, the cataracts cloud more of the lens, and people begin to have symptoms. Changes in night vision are usually the first sign. Oncoming lights may have a halo effect, and your distance vision may be affected.
Cataracts can take years before symptoms appear, as more and more proteins affect the lens. Common symptoms are as follows, so, if you have any of these, be sure to schedule a check-up with us at Elmquist Eye Group:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Vision that appears dim or dull
- Colors appear faded
- Appearance of looking through a waterfall
- Poor night vision
- Light and glare sensitivity
- Halo appearance around lights and headlights
- Frequent eyeglasses or contact lens prescription changes
Over time, the proteins change shape and grow more prominently to create the above symptoms as the lens yellows and thickens and becomes less flexible and transparent. Eventually, the clouded lens begins to block incoming light from reaching the pupil, so vision is less clear and appears duller.
While age is the primary risk factor, cataracts do have other causes and risk factors. People who smoke or drink alcohol are more prone to developing cataracts, as are people who tend to have excessive exposure to sunlight. Health ailments like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure also put you at greater risk for cataracts. Cancer patients who have been exposed to excess amounts of radiation therapy are also at greater risk, as are patients who have had previous eye surgeries or eye injuries. Certain vitamin deficiencies accelerate cataracts, as does prolonged steroid use. Family history of cataracts is also a factor.
Unfortunately, cataracts cannot be prevented, and the only treatment is surgery. At first, you may be able to change your glasses or contact lens prescription, but surgery is inevitably needed down the road. Cataracts do not necessarily need to be removed immediately. Only when they begin to interfere with your vision is surgery recommended.
Our Elmquist surgeons perform the surgery on an outpatient basis, replacing the clouded lens with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL).
The IOL feels and functions just like a natural lens. You won’t even know the difference. Even better, we have IOLs that can correct vision. In all, the entire procedure can be done in about an hour. It is quick and painless, and because no stitches are required, your eye heals very easily.
If you have noticed symptoms of cataracts, come see our exceptional doctors at Elmquist Eye Group. Make an appointment at either our Fort Myers or Cape Coral locations. We are confident in our ability to provide you with outstanding eye care.