Cataracts are cloud-like formations that develop on the eye lens. The lens is normally clear, helping ensure good vision. For patients with cataracts, their vision is clouded, and it appears like they are looking through fogged-up windows.
Cloudy lenses can make it difficult to perform different activities like driving and reading. The cloudy vision can even make it difficult to see facial expressions. In most cases, cataracts develop gradually, and eyesight is not affected in the early stages.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Several signs and symptoms indicate that a person has cataracts. They include blurred, clouded, or dim vision, sensitivity to glare and light, and difficulty with night vision. The need for brighter lighting when reading and performing other activities can be a symptom of cataracts.
Other symptoms are seeing halos surrounding lights, double vision in one eye, fading colors, and frequently changing lens prescription. In the early stages, cloudiness of vision may only affect a small part of the eye. As the cataract grows, more of the lens becomes clouded.
Causes of Cataracts
In most cases, cataracts develop due to injury or aging, which changes the eye tissue that forms the eye lens. The fibers and proteins in the eye lens start to break down, causing the vision to become cloudy or hazy.
Some genetic disorders can lead to health problems that increase a person’s risk of developing cataracts. Previous eye surgery and other eye conditions can also cause cataracts. Cataracts can result from medical conditions like diabetes and the long-term use of some medications.
Types of Cataracts
There are different types of cataracts, distinguished by where they develop. Nuclear cataracts affect the center of the eye lens. These types of cataracts usually cause nearsightedness, but with time the vision becomes cloudier as the lens turns yellow. Cortical cataracts develop on the edges of the eye lens.
Cataracts begin as whitish streaks or opacities on the lens’ outer edge, extending with time to affect the center of the eye. Posterior subcapsular cataracts form at the back of the eye lens. Congenital cataracts are those that develop in childhood or at birth.
When to Treat Cataracts
When cataracts start to develop, cloudiness in the vision will usually affect only a part of the eye lens. As cataracts grow larger, the sight becomes more distorted, and the symptoms are more noticeable. If you notice vision changes, it is important to visit an eye doctor.
An eye exam will help to determine if you have cataracts. During the early stages, eyeglasses and stronger lighting can help deal with cataracts. But with time, impaired vision can begin to affect daily activities, and the patient may require cataract surgery.
When to Get Cataract Surgery
If prescription glasses fail to clear the vision, an eye doctor may suggest cataract surgery. This is the only permanent and effective treatment for cataracts. Eye doctors consider surgery when cataracts begin to affect the patient’s quality of life. Cataracts do not usually harm the eyes, so there is no urgency to have surgery.
For more on cataracts and their treatment, visit Grin Eye Care at our office in Leawood or Olathe, Kansas. You can call (913) 829-5511 to book an appointment. You can also visit any of our satellite locations in Raymore, Independence, Warrensburg, or Kansas City, Missouri, or Lawrence, Kansas.