Cataracts are caused by damage to the lens of the eye. A healthy transparent lens focuses light onto the retina, producing a clear image, whereas a damaged lens becomes cloudy, reducing the ability to see properly.
When cataracts first develop you may not be aware of any issues with your eyesight. However, as a cataract progresses, it will begin to distort the light that passes through the lens into the back of your eye. It is then you will begin to notice problems with your vision – you will start experiencing cataract symptoms.
If you think you may have cataracts, here are a few check points on cataract symptoms and signs of the condition for you to consider. Cataract symptoms can include:
• Blurred vision and/ or double vision. The cloudy portion of the lens is unable to focus light properly. Instead it blocks light from passing through and causes it to scatter. This scattering prevents the formation of a clear image on the retina, resulting in blurred vision and/or double vision.
• Halos around lights and glare from lights. Halos are bright circles which are seen around light sources, while glare occurs when light enters your eye in a way that interferes with your vision, for example when the flash from a camera momentarily stops you from seeing. Both halos and glare are caused by your eye’s inability to properly focus the light that passes through the lens.
• Difficulty seeing at night. There are several ways that this could affect you. For example, you may require a stronger light to see during activities such as reading and writing.
• Difficultly discerning contrasts of colour and depth. Among other things, this can lead to falls.
• Colour changes. Cataracts can also affect your ability to see colour. You may find that colours appear washed out or they acquire a yellow or brown tinge. People with cataracts frequently have trouble telling the difference between blues and purples.
• Eye conditions other than cataract can cause some of these symptoms. For example, short sightedness can cause blurred vision or vision disturbance from halo and glare. Also be aware that cataracts do not cause pain, red eye or discharge, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, you need to seek medical advice immediately.
If you are concerned about your eyes, you should make an appointment to see a specialist who is expert in the diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions. If you do have cataracts, proper examination of your eye may reveal lower visual acuity than previously and opaque areas within the lens should be visible. Your specialist will advise you how to proceed: you may be able to manage your cataracts with glasses and using stronger lights when you carry out activities. The only definitive treatment for cataracts is surgery.
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