Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear, like the top lens in the illustration.
Vision Problems with Cataracts
If you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy, like the bottom lens in the illustration. It is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.
The top lens is a clear, natural lens. The bottom lens shows clouding by cataract.
Here are some vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract:
If you notice any of these cataract symptoms, notify your ophthalmologist.
Cataracts can make images appear dull or yellow.
Blurry or dim vision is a symptom of cataracts.
Cataracts can cause distortion or ghost images.
What Causes Cataracts?
Aging is the most common cause. This is due to normal eye changes that happen starting around age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
Other reasons you may get cataracts include:
having parents, brothers, sisters, or other family members who have cataracts
using certain medications such as corticosteroids, which may cause early formation of cataracts.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes. Doctors cannot predict how quickly a person’s cataract will develop.
You may be able to slow down your development of cataracts.
When it becomes difficult to complete your regular activities, consider cataract surgery.
Make an informed decision about cataract surgery. Have a discussion with your ophthalmologist about:
preparation for and recovery after surgery,
benefits and possible complications of cataract surgery,
cataract surgery costs,
other questions you have.
Cataracts can be removed only with surgery.
If your cataract symptoms are not bothering you very much, you don’t have to remove a cataract. You might just need a new eyeglass prescription to help you see better. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing things you want or need to do.
People who have had cataract surgery may have their vision become hazy again years later. This is usually because the eye’s capsule has become cloudy. The capsule is the part of your eye that holds the IOL in place. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision. This is called a capsulotomy.
Cataracts are a very common reason people lose vision, but they can be treated. You and your ophthalmologist should discuss your cataract symptoms. Together you can decide whether you are ready for cataract surgery.