A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to vision impairment.
For a person with cataracts, seeing through a clouded lens can be like viewing the world through a foggy or frosted window.
If you have any of the following symptoms and are concerned about cataracts, it's important to seek treatment right away.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cataracts?
Common symptoms of cataracts include the following:
- Progressively harder to see at night
- Cloudy vision or cloudy spots within the field of vision
- Distorted/blurred vision
- Seeing “halos” around street lights
- Iris's color appears grayer than usual
- Development of double vision
- Increased incidents of fender benders, or “near misses”
- Noticeably clumsier
- Increased sensitivity to bright light
- Having to change eyewear prescriptions more often
- Appearance of colors seem dimmed; less vibrant
- Development of low vision; difficulty seeing in low light
Types Of Cataracts
There are three types of cataracts that differ based on how they form and where they develop. These types include:
Persons with diabetes are more likely to develop cortical cataracts than other types of cataracts. Cortical cataracts form in the cortex, which is the shell layer of the lens. It develops in a spokes formation that works its way from the peripheral of the lens, inward to the center. This causes light that enters the eye to scatter, which distorts depth perception and contrast, and causes blurry vision and increased glare.
Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts
This is the most common type of cataract, which presents as a progressive yellowing of the middle of the lens, hardening of the lens, and gradual expansion into more layers of the lens. Nuclear sclerotic cataracts often develop very slowly, over a period of years before outward symptoms present. Occasionally, babies are born with nuclear sclerotic cataracts.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts
This type of cataract first appears as a cloudy area on the lens, developing just beneath the lens capsule. As it grows, the cloudy, grayish appearance of the eye becomes outwardly noticeable.
What Causes Cataracts?
Factors that increase the incidence of cataracts include:
- Underlying health conditions, including diabetes
- Genetic predisposition
- Past eye surgery
- Chronic use of steroids, including prednisone
- Past eye trauma/injury
- Side effects of certain prescription drugs
During an eye exam, your ophthalmologist will look for the development of cataracts.
It's important to let your eye doctor know if you have one or more of these risk factors for cataracts.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
Your ophthalmologist may use several tests during a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose cataracts, including:
- Visual acuity — to measure visual acuity by having the patient read letters and/or numbers on a chart on the wall
- Retinal exam — the ophthalmologist will dilate the pupils in order to see more clearly into the back of the eye, where the retina is situated
- Slit lamp exam — this enables an amplified view of the cornea, iris, lens, and other parts of the eye, in order to detect the development of cataracts
Treatment Options For Cataracts
Cataract surgery is typically used to treat cataracts. During this surgery, the damaged lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens.
Your ophthalmologist at Wilkinson Eye Center will determine if and when cataract surgery makes sense in your individual circumstances.