Cataract symptoms can begin as subtle, and you may not notice them or find them alarming at first. What starts as routinely needing to turn up the brightness on a cell phone or tablet, or perhaps a hazy view of your morning coffee as your stir in cream and sugar can slowly become more frequent and concerning. Bright light and glare may start to hurt your eyes, or you might even notice halos around lights.
Detecting cataracts most often stems from two scenarios, either a regular eye exam or because a patient has started to experience the concerning symptoms of cataracts which prompted a visit to the optometrist. Here are the 6 signs of cataracts you should know.
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The Signs of Cataracts You Need To Watch For
Cataracts can be hard to notice in oneself, even when you know the symptoms simply because of subtlety and tendency to slowly accumulate over time. These symptoms become normalized before we become aware of changes in our vision. Because of this, one of the best ways to catch the first signs of cataracts is to book a regular eye exam. As a rule of thumb, adults under 60, should visit their optometrist every two years, while adults over the age of 60 should go at least once every year and regardless of age if you experience changes in your vision you should book an eye exam as soon as possible. Some of the telling symptoms of cataracts you should watch for include:
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Vision worsens at night
- Lights appear to glow
- Colours are less vibrant
- Experiencing double vision
- You're blowing through prescriptions
What Causes Cataracts to Form?
Cataracts can be due to a variety of factors including age, genetics and everyday risk factors that increase the chances of developing cataracts. All of these can contribute to protein buildup and lens breakdown which forms an opaque layer in the lens. Some of these factors include:
- Sun exposure
- Age, genetics and obesity
- Medication, smoking and alcohol use
- Medical and health conditions
- Injury to the eye
When it comes to diagnosing cataracts, your optometrist will use several tools and processes to rule out or confirm a cataract diagnosis. Some of these methods include a visual acuity test, a retinal exam, and ophthalmoscopy. Most of the time when someone has developed cataracts the lens of their eye, which focuses light on the retina, becomes clouded and distorts vision and can eventually obstruct vision entirely.
Although cataracts are among the top leading causes of blindness worldwide, it is treatable for those with access to surgery and treatment. The progression of cataracts can also be slowed with intervention or sometimes symptoms can simply be managed. Here are a few non-surgical, non-invasive cataract treatment options:
Non-invasive Cataract Treatment Options:
- A Stronger glasses prescription
- Using magnifying lenses or reading glasses
- Wearing UV and Sun protection such as sunglasses and hats
- Stop smoking and reducing alcohol consumption
Your optometrist may recommend Cataract surgery if your cataracts are severely impacting your daily life without any relief with the above measures. You should consult your optometrist about the risks of performing daily activities, including driving or operating machinery, when you are impacted by cataracts. If your cataracts are progressing, or have begun to interfere with daily activities, surgery might be an option to restore clarity to your vision.
Don't Forget You Get a Free Eye Exam Every Year if You're 65 or Older
If you're 65 or older, Alberta Health Care will cover the cost of one comprehensive eye exam every year. The above tests, which should be included in your eye exam, are essential tools that will help prevent your vision from falling victim to one of the more common age-related eye diseases, mainly because most of them first develop without any signs or symptoms. Because you don't want to wait until your sight begins to be taken away from you before you realize you're losing it.
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If you need a comprehensive eye exam in Calgary or Three Hills, My Optometrist Calgary has you covered with our advanced eye care. Contact one of our My Optometrist Calgary clinics at either 403-256-0606 (Health First Optometry), 403-291-0923 (Sunridge Vision Centre), or 403-443-2040 (Three Hills Optometry) and book your appointment today.
Are there ways to prevent cataracts?
Changes in lifestyle such as diet, eye protection, quitting smoking or reducing alcohol, and monitoring medication use can aid to prevent and slow the progression of cataract formation. a healthy antioxidant-rich diet, protecting the eyes from ultraviolet radiation by wearing sunglasses and hats, and refraining from smoking.
When should you have cataracts removed?
Unfortunately, non-surgical treatment will only help manage cataracts or slow their progression but they will need to be removed one they are interfering with your vision and daily activities.
Why do cataracts make vision appear cloudy?
Clouding of the lens behind the iris usually develops due to the clumping of natural proteins in the lens. Normally, these proteins are organized in such a way that the lens remains clear, and light is not blocked from entering the eye. However, as we age, the protein components of the lens tend to fuse together forming a cloudy area.