How do cataracts affect my vision?
Like a camera, your eyes have lenses that focus light. When you have a cataract, the lenses become cloudy. It’s as if your eyes have gone out of focus, and your vision is less sharp.
When you have a cataract large enough to affect your vision, many everyday tasks and activities become more difficult. You might find that need more light to read, find it harder to see the facial expressions of others, or have trouble driving at night because of the glare from oncoming headlights.
Other signs of a cataract include:
- Needing to change your eyeglass prescription frequently
- Seeing halos around lights
- Increased sensitivity to light or glare
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Colors appearing less vivid
Cataracts are common among people 60 and older. They usually affect both eyes but don’t develop at the exact same time, so you could have worse vision in one eye than the other.
What causes cataracts to form?
Cataracts are made up of proteins. Proteins are an important part of your eyes’ structure and function, allowing you to see. Cataracts form when these proteins break down and clump together, stopping light from reaching your retina, the tissue at the back of your eye that gathers light to send through the optic nerve to the brain, where visual images are formed.
When you have cloudy vision due to a cataract, it’s because you’re looking straight at the clumped proteins on your lens. You might not notice a cataract in its early stages because it covers only a small part of your lens, and you can adjust. But as cataracts get worse over time, the proteins continue to build up, blocking more and more of your vision.
Cataracts are usually age-related, but they can also form after an eye injury. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes cataracts, but you’re more likely to develop them if you:
- Are obese
- Spend a lot of time in the sun
- Have diabetes or high blood pressure
Be sure to schedule an eye exam at Ramirez & Poulos, MD, PA, if you’re concerned about changes to your vision.
How are cataracts treated?
The only way to permanently correct a cataract is surgery, but you might not need it right away.
If your cataract is causing only minor vision problems, you might be able to manage with a stronger eyeglass prescription. You might also want to get anti-glare lenses for your glasses, which can make driving at night easier. Your doctor can also recommend brighter lighting in your home and vision aids like magnifiers to help you read.
If your cataract is large enough to significantly interfere with your vision, the next step is surgery. Cataract surgery is a very common, quick, and effective outpatient procedure that restores your vision. It involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens.
If you’re concerned about changes in your vision or you’d like to schedule an eye exam, call the office of Ramirez & Poulos, MD, PA.