4 signs you may have cataracts

Mr Joey Cazabon Mr Joey Cazabon Consultant Ophthalmologist at Nuffield Health Chester, The Grosvenor Hospital
Cataracts affect many of us as we get older, but acting early can reduce the impact they'll have on your life. Thankfully, spotting the early signs of a cataract developing is fairly straight forward.

Mr Joey Cazabon, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Nuffield Health Chester Hospital, reveals four signs you might be developing them and how cataract surgery can help.

What is a cataract?

A cataract clouds the lens inside your eye, affecting your vision in a variety of ways. Many people over 60 years old will have at least some amount present.

Left to develop, cataracts will eventually leave you feeling like you're looking through a frosted window. The problem can be easily fixed with surgery that removes the lens inside your eye and replaces it with a synthetic one to suit your purpose.

1. Blurred vision

Blurry vision is often the first sign of cataracts. You may find that things being progressively more difficult to see at various distances. If you wear glasses, they may seem dirty, or you may find it difficult to see and drive at night.

You may also find that things become progressively more difficult to see at various distances. This is because the clouding of the eye's lens causes light to scatter, causing things to take on a foggy or dim appearance. Many people also experience trouble reading, making out the detail in people's faces, or seeing clearly in low-light conditions.

If left unchecked, blurred vision tends to get worse until it starts to affect daily function and your ability to complete basic tasks. Regular eye exams are a must if you think your vision is deteriorating, or if you think you're at risk of developing cataracts.

2. Being dazzled by light

Noticing glare or halos around lights (artificial or natural) can be an early sign of cataracts.

This happens because a clouded lens will scatter more light than it should. You might find it harder to drive at night or feel discomfort in bright environments if you're experiencing glare or seeing halos around objects.

What's also important to note is that continuing to drive and work in certain environments can be dangerous if you are regularly seeing "scattered" light or halos around certain objects.  While wearing sunglasses and using anti-glare screens can provide temporary relief, it's crucial to consult an eye specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

3. Abnormal colour changes

Cataracts can alter the colour of the world around you and make things appear faded or washed out. Many people with cataracts report objects taking on a yellow hue which can make spotting the difference between certain objects difficult. This is especially true for things that are coloured navy blue, brown, and black, or blue, green and purple. You might notice whites appearing more yellow.

4. Having to regularly change prescription

As a cataract begins to form, the lens inside your eye increases in size which often results in a need to change spectacle prescriptions more frequently than you normally would.

These changes occur because the cataract affects how light is focused onto the retina, resulting in fluctuations and changes in vision quality. You may initially notice that your glasses that once provided clear vision no longer seem to work as well, prompting you to seek stronger prescriptions more often. This constant need to update your eyewear can be frustrating and costly.

It's important to understand that while new glasses may offer temporary improvement, they do not address the underlying issue. Cataracts will continue to progress and over time, even frequent prescription changes won't suffice.

In addition to altering your lens prescription, cataracts can also cause astigmatism, which further complicates vision correction. We recommend regular visits to your optometrist or ophthalmologist, as cataract development should always be monitored closely.

When should I act?

In the past, cataract surgeons often waited for the cataract to become "ripe" before removing it. Nowadays, with modern surgery the operation is usually done as soon as symptoms with your vision begin to interfere with your daily activities.

Cataract surgery only takes around 20 minutes and you can get back doing the things you love within a few days.

Find out more about cataract surgery.

Last updated Thursday 4 July 2024

First published on Friday 19 February 2016