Trouble Seeing? Signs of Cataracts
Have you ever noticed a milky-colored buildup in the middle of someone's eyes? That's what a cataract can look like if it gets to an advanced stage. But early on, it may not be so visible to others. Still, cataracts can begin affecting vision quite early in their development -- and those vision changes are something that millions of people deal with. In fact, more than 50% of us get cataracts or cataract treatment by the time we reach age 80.
But the good news is that some easy measures may improve low vision caused by cataracts, and surgery can remove them if they become severe. (Discover other causes of low vision.)
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
Only an eye care professional can diagnose cataracts, but it may be time to schedule an eye exam if you notice any of these common signs:
- Blurry or fuzzy vision
- Trouble seeing at night
- Double vision (single objects appear as two)
- A glow or halo effect around lights
- Changes to color vision (colors are less vivid, maybe brownish)
What Causes Cataracts?
Certain factors increase the risk of cataracts. For example, if you smoke or drink too much alcohol, your risk of cataracts may be higher. Ditto if your eyes have been exposed to lots of UV rays from the sun throughout your life.
Also, the older you are, the higher your risk. And people who have a history of eye injuries are at higher risk of cataracts as well.
Protect Your Peepers
Here are a few lifestyle habits that can help protect your vision and possibly reduce the risk of cataracts:
- Seek shades. Ultraviolet-light-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help shield your eyes from the sun's damaging rays.
- Kick butt. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your eyes. Here's how to stop.
- Feed your eyes. Foods high in certain vitamins and nutrients may protect your vision and reduce the risk of some eye diseases. Include these seven foods in your diet for better eye health.
- Get screened. Regular eye exams help detect and treat cataracts early, as well as many other eye problems that can affect your vision. Find out when you should get vision screenings.
What Are the Treatments for Cataracts?
If cataracts make it hard for you to see, there are lots of ways to compensate for your low vision. A new eyeglasses prescription may help. So might better lighting. And your eye care professional may be able to recommend other types of eyewear that help with glare and other vision problems.
But if these measures don't work well enough, or if your cataracts severely affect your vision, a simple surgery may help improve your eyesight.
Knowledge Is Power
Untreated, cataracts can drastically affect vision, even causing blindness in some cases. But with a little knowledge and information, you'll be able to take steps to see better and also know when a doctor's help is needed. Visit our Eye Health topic page for more information, articles, tips, and tools on protecting your vision.