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What Is the First Sign of Cataracts?

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A closeup of an eye with cataract to show early signs of cataracts.

Cataracts are one of the most common eye issues that can cause vision loss in people over 60.

Because it’s so common, you’re probably wondering what the early signs are so that you can be prepared if you start to develop cataracts yourself.

Signs you may be developing cataracts:

  • Blurry or fuzzy vision
  • Faded colors
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Double vision
  • Light & glare sensitivity
  • Frequent prescription changes
  • Eye discoloration

Thankfully, cataract surgery is a common procedure, so if you think you may be developing cataracts, you have options available to have them removed.

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens in your eye becomes foggy. The lens is located behind your iris (the colored part of your eye) and allows light to enter your eye so that your brain and eye can work together to create a picture.

The lenses of our eyes are mostly made of water and protein that allows light to pass through. Cataracts form when that protein congregates into small clumps, clouding the lens.

When a cataract obscures the lens, your eye cannot focus light as it did when it was clear. This causes blurred vision and vision loss.

Early Signs of Cataracts

Cataracts can vary in severity, and the appropriate treatment is determined by the degree of progression and type of cataracts you have. There are several early signs of cataracts you may develop.

A comparison of a normal eye with clear vision against vision with cataracts.

Blurry or Fuzzy Vision

Blurred vision is the first and most common symptom of cataract development. Your vision could be cloudy, fuzzy, or foggy as your cataracts worsen because less light reaches your retina. 

You may also notice blurred spots in your vision when cataracts are in their early stages. The spots may begin as small patches and gradually grow in size which can make daily activities more difficult as your cataracts worsen.

Faded Colors

Colors that aren’t as bright as they used to be could signify cataracts. This symptom may be noticeable when looking at a bright blue sky or other bright colors, but because vision changes gradually, some people don’t realize how much color they’ve lost until after their cataract surgery.

Difficulty Seeing at Night

Patients with early-stage cataracts may experience a gradual deterioration of their night vision. Cataracts can cause your vision to darken or dim. These early changes may be unnoticeable during the day when there is enough light to compensate for dimming vision, but they can be obvious at night.

Double Vision

Cataracts can also cause one eye to have double vision. This can occur when the cataract obstructs the eye’s normal focusing process. When the affected eye is closed, the double vision caused by the cataract may disappear.

If you have double vision, make sure to tell your eye doctor during your next eye exam.

Light & Glare Sensitivity

If you’re developing cataracts, you may experience discomfort in bright lighting.

Consult your eye doctor if bright lights cause you to squint or close your eyes or if you experience sudden headaches from bright lights.

Frequent Prescription Changes

Cataracts can accelerate the deterioration of vision. This means that in the early stages of cataracts, people may need to change their glasses and/or contact prescriptions more frequently than usual.

If you are developing cataracts, you may need to adjust your prescription every few months to compensate for vision loss.

Eye Discoloration

Cataracts can also cause discoloration of your eye’s lens. First, they may turn yellow, and then after time, brown. This can alter your perception of colors and make it difficult to distinguish between them, particularly black, brown, blue, and purple.

Cataract Surgery

Laser cataract surgery entails replacing the clouded cataract lens with an artificial one.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed worldwide. In addition, it has a high success rate of 90–95% in the United States.

When Should You See a Doctor?

You should see an eye doctor regularly and any time you notice changes in your vision—especially if they appear to develop quickly or interfere with your daily activities. 

Stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help correct your cataract-impaired vision in the early stages. Your optometrist may recommend cataract surgery if your vision continues to deteriorate.

Advances in cataract surgery allow a patient to have a cataract lens removed before it progresses to an advanced stage.If you’re experiencing the early symptoms of cataracts, book an appointment with the team at Lake Eye Associates to see how we can help improve your vision.

Written by useye

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