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WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens in your eye. When you have cataracts, it’s difficult for light to enter your eye, which causes blurred vision that may make you feel like you’re looking out a foggy window.1

Cataracts happen naturally as you get older.
They develop gradually, like dirt slowly building up on a car windshield 2. At first you may not notice any changes to your vision, but eventually you will start to notice symptoms.1

The only way to treat cataracts is through surgery, during which the natural lens that has been affected by cataracts is removed and replaced with a syn­thetic lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL.

CATARACT SYMPTOMS

When you have cataracts, it can seem like you are looking through a foggy window. At first, only a small part of your vision is cloudy. But as the cataract grows over time, the cloudy area will get larger and your vision may become duller and more blurry.3

As cataracts get worse, they block more light from reaching the retina. This makes it harder to see and drive at night. You may also need more light for indoor activities such as reading.3

Cataracts can make your eyes more sensitive to light. You may notice that indoor lights seem too bright and may have trouble seeing in bright sunlight.3

When you have cataracts, objects may appear to have halos around them. You may also notice glare around streetlights and traffic lights, making it hard to drive at night.3

At first, colours may appear faded. Your vision may also start to have a yellowish-brown tinge. This is gradual at first, but may eventually get to the point where you may have trouble telling the difference between black, blue, and purple.3

Cataracts can sometimes cause double vision, where you see two images of a single object at the same time. This occurs even when you have one eye open.3

Here’s an unexpected effect of cataracts: you may need to change your glasses and contact lens prescriptions more frequently. Strangely, some people may even notice an improvement in their near vision and may no longer need their reading glasses for a while. This is sometimes called second sight and usually goes away as the cataract gets worse.3

CATARACT SYMPTOMS

Cloudy or blurry vision

cloudy or blurry vision

When you have cataracts, it can seem like you are looking through a foggy window. At first, only a small part of your vision is cloudy. But as the cataract grows over time, the cloudy area will get larger and your vision may become duller and more blurry.2

Trouble seeing at night

trouble seeing at night

As cataracts get worse, they block more light from reaching the retina. This makes it harder to see and drive at night. You may also need more light for indoor activities such as reading.2

Light and glare sensitivity

Light and Glare sensitivity

Cataracts can make your eyes more sensitive to light. You may notice that indoor lights seem too bright and may have trouble seeing in bright sunlight.3

Seeing “halos” around lights

hallows around lights

When you have cataracts, objects may appear to have halos around them. You may also notice glare around streetlights and traffic lights, making it hard to drive at night.3

Fading or yellowing of colours

Fading or yellowing of colours

At first, colours may appear faded. Your vision may also start to have a yellowish-brown tinge. This is gradual at first, but may eventually get to the point where you may have trouble telling the difference between black, blue, and purple.1

Double vision

Double vision

Cataracts can sometimes cause double vision, where you see two images of a single object at the same time. This occurs even when you have one eye open.3

Frequent changes in your eyeglass or contact lens prescription1

Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription

Here’s an unexpected effect of cataracts: you may need to change your glasses and contact lens prescriptions more frequently. Strangely, some people may even notice an improvement in their near vision and may no longer need their reading glasses for a while. This is sometimes called second sight and usually goes away as the cataract gets worse. 3

References:
1. National Eye Institute Staff. Facts About Cataract. National Eye Institute. September 2009. Available at https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataracts. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts.
3. WebMD. Slideshow: a visual guide to cataracts. http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/ss/slideshow-cataracts.

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