One of the topics I cover during an eye exam is whether or not someone has cataracts. Cataracts are like gray hair- if you live long enough you will get them. The lens inside the eye starts out completely clear. Over time, the lens turns a yellow, then brown color. Small bubble like opacities and lines can form inside of it. During an eye exam I always check the lens and asses how much cataract is present.
But, not everyone has symptoms from their cataracts. Often patients will ask me, what would I notice if I had a cataract?
One of the most common symptoms is glare at night. If you notice halos around headlights, your vision being washed out when a car approaches, or starbursts around headlights or streetlights, that most likely is being caused by cataracts. Cataracts also tend to make people more nearsighted, so often distance vision gets more blurry. Cataracts can change the glasses prescription, sometimes pretty quickly. Certain types of cataracts make vision worse during the day, when the sun is bright and the pupil of the eye is small.
If you are noticing these symptoms, it still may not be time to have the cataracts removed. The benefit of the surgery needs to outweigh the risks, so a few factors are considered. If a change in glasses prescription doesn’t improve vision better than 20/40, surgery is considered. If a patient has stopped driving or night driving due to vision, surgery is considered. If the structure of the eye is such that waiting to remove the cataract would cause harm, surgery is considered.
Combining the patient’s experiences with their vision and the eye doctor’s examination of the eye results in a good decision about surgery.
If you have noticed any of these symptoms or wonder if you have cataracts, call our office today to schedule an eye exam.