Cataracts: they’re not something you want. But yet they’re prevalent among older adults, particularly those over 60. You may know that cataracts are characterized by cloudy or blurred vision, but there are a whole host of other symptoms to be on the lookout for, such as:
Sensitivity to glare and light.
Increasing difficulty with vision at night.
Need for brighter light when reading and performing other activities.
Seeing “halos” appear around lights.
Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions or contact lens prescriptions.
Fading or yellowing of colors.
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens, affecting a little more than half of all Americans who are older than 80, says the National Eye Institute – even though people can start developing them as early as age 40.
Cataracts don’t happen suddenly. They are a gradual process, whereby you aren’t aware you’re suffering from them right away. The first sign is that your vision starts to get blurry, hazy, or much less vibrant. Then difficulty driving, reading, or performing other everyday activities will begin to set in. Surgery is the only cure.
Most cataracts are related to age. Translation: they happen as we get older, like gray hair or joint problems. Cataracts can result from an eye injury or after you have undergone surgery for glaucoma.
Common Signs: What to Be on the Lookout For
Initially, cataracts are relatively mild with no noticeable symptoms. But with growth comes vision changes, like:
Cloudy, dim, or blurry vision
Colors begin looking faded
Tough to see clearly at night
Lamps, sunlight, and headlights make you cringe at their brightness.
It may even seem like you’re changing your prescription every year too. Once they start, the changes will rapidly build up until your eye doctor eventually recommends surgery. Temporary or permanent vision loss can result if you let these symptoms go.
One thing to note: the symptoms you may be experiencing aren’t all exclusive to cataracts. They could be signs of other issues, which is why your annual exam is so important.
Who is Most at Risk?
Risk increases with age as well as these factors. Do you:
Have a family history of cataracts?
Suffer from diabetes?
Drink alcohol excessively?
Spend a lot of time in the sun?
In addition to the above, if you have recently had an injury to the eye, eye surgery, or radiation treatment on the upper half of your body, you’re at a greater risk for cataracts.
Can You Prevent Cataracts?
While you can’t always prevent all instances of cataracts, there are steps you can take to reduce risk, such as:
Wearing sunglasses and brimmed hats outdoors
Nixing the smoking
Eating fruits and vegetables, like spinach, collard greens, and kale
Get a dilated eye exam every two years once you hit 60.
During a visit with your eye doctor, they will check if you have cataracts, using eye drops to dilate your pupils.