Cataracts can sneak up on you. They might develop slowly for years, with effects so gradual that you may not notice them. But sometimes they suddenly get worse, and you find it’s hard to drive at night. Only a professional can tell you if your cataracts have reached the point where they need to be removed. Is it time to make that appointment? Here are some questions to help you decide.
- How old are you? Age is the number one risk factor. Most commonly cataracts start in the 40s and 50s but become noticeable in the 60s. If you’re over 60 you may be reaching the point when you need to do something about them.
- Does the world look cloudy or dim? Does every day seem to be a dull and blurry one? Does that house that used to look white now appear yellow? Does it seem like you’re wearing “blue-blocker” sunglasses? When you cover your eyes in turn, is there a difference in how bright things are? That might mean that cataracts are present in one eye or worse in one than the other.
- Is it hard to drive at night? The weaker the light, the harder it is to see through cataracts. Reading road signs on unfamiliar highways can be an intimidating challenge. Also, you might start seeing rings or “halos” (sometimes in many colors) around streetlights and other headlights.
- Is it hard to see distant objects? Do things in the distance fade to where they’re indistinguishable from one another?
- Do you experience double vision? It could be diffraction from the lens clouding that comes with cataracts.
- Have your eyes become more sensitive to light? Do you need bright light to read small print or do close work?
- Is the prescription for your glasses changing frequently? If you have cataracts, using stronger and stronger glasses won’t fix the problem.
Here are some symptoms you’re not likely to see. There probably won’t be any pain or discomfort; that happens only with advanced cataracts. Also, your cataracts won’t be visible to other people (or to you in a mirror) until they’re well advanced.
If you answered “yes” to questions on the list, it’s time to have that evaluation. If you see an optometrist on a regular basis, they check for cataracts as part of a comprehensive exam. However, most people see their eye doctor once a year, and sometimes cataracts can go from a tolerable issue to a serious lifestyle impediment in a matter of months.
While these symptoms generally indicate that cataracts are the problem, don’t assume that’s the case. Some of these signs can be the result of brain injury of other serious or even life-threatening medical conditions. That’s all the more reason for an appointment with our eye doctors. If cataracts are indeed the problem, they’ll talk to you about whether it’s time to schedule cataract surgery.