How Do I Know if I Have a Cataract?

You probably have heard the term cataract at one point or another. But what exactly is a cataract and how does it affect our eyes? More importantly, what are the symptoms and how can we prevent or slow down the progression of cataracts? Let’s discuss.

What is a Cataract?

Our eyes have a lens inside them. This lens is made up of mostly water and proteins arranged in a particular pattern so the lens is clear in color and allows light to pass through. When light enters the eye, it is focused through the lens and travels to the back of the eye (retina) where it is then interpreted into an image. Over time the protein structure can change or start to clump which causes clouding of the lens. If the lens becomes cloudy, then the image (our vision) will be out of focus or blurry. The clouding of the lens is what we call a cataract. There are numerous causes of cataracts including:

  • Aging (most common)
  • Excessive exposure to UV or sunlight
  • Trauma/injury or surgery to the eye
  • Long term use of medications, i.e. corticosteroids or Phenothiazines (anti-psychotics)
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Exposure to radiation, i.e. cancer treatment or x-rays

What Are the Symptoms of a Cataract?

Typically cataracts are slow to progress, and do not progress equally in each eye, so symptoms may vary depending on severity. Here a few things to out for:

  • Cloudy, distorted, or double vision (usually in one eye)
  • Decrease in color perception or vibrancy of colors (things may take on a yellow hue or appear dull)
  • Difficulty in bright sunlight (glare) or driving at night (due to scattering of light caused by cataract)
  • Difficulty reading things close up (from central clouding of lens)
  • Needing frequent updates to your eyeglass prescription

If you or a loved one are noticing any of the above symptoms, the best way to determine if there is a cataract is to visit your eye care provider for a thorough eye exam with dilation.

How to Prevent or slow progression of Cataracts

There are some actions you can take to avoid getting a cataract. These include:

  • Wear sunglasses
  • Use eye protection when warranted (i.e. sports, carpentry, etc.)
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and keep health in check
  • Smoke cessation
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Periodic eye examinations for monitoring

Stay tuned for our upcoming article,  What is the Treatment for Cataracts?


Sources


Support Caring Village

If you have received value from one of our numerous articles, checklists, preparation guides or our highly-rated caregiving app please consider making a contribution to keep our services free. More families are using Caring Village than ever to care for their loved ones. Unlike most organizations, we strive to keep these services free for all as we understand first-hand how difficult caregiving can be.

Caring Village's long term sustainability relies on the support we receive directly from our readers and app users and for this we thank you. We have a vision to bring even more services and features to the families that need it most. In light of this, we appreciate your consideration to make a one-time or recurring contribution. For as little as $1, you can support Caring Village - and it takes less than a minute to do so. Thank you!

-- Make a One Time Contribution

$

-- Or Make a Recurring Contribution

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $1.00 One Time



 

 

Nicole Swistak is an Optometrist with 12 years of experience in primary eye care. She has worked alongside our nation’s armed forces and volunteers with local free clinics.