Cataracts: they’re not something you want. But yet they’re very common among older adults, particularly those over 60. You may know that cataracts are characterized by cloudy or blurred vision, but there are a whole host of other symptoms to be on the lookout for, such as:
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye, affecting a little more than half of all Americans who are older than 80, says the National Eye Institute – even though people can start developing them as early as age 40.
Cataracts don’t happen suddenly. They are a gradual process, whereby you aren’t aware you’re suffering from them right away. The first sign is that your vision starts to get blurry, hazy, or much less vibrant. Then difficulty driving, reading or performing other every-day activities will start to set in. Surgery is the only cure.
Most cataracts are related to age. Translation: they just happen as we get older, like gray hair or joint problems. Cataracts can result from an eye injury or after you have undergone surgery for glaucoma.
Initially, cataracts are relatively mild with no noticeable symptoms. But with growth, comes changes in vision, like:
It may even seem like you’re changing your prescription every year too. Once they start, the changes will rapidly build up until your eye doctor will eventually recommend surgery. Temporary or permanent vision loss can result if you let these symptoms go.
One thing to note: the symptoms you may be experiencing aren’t all exclusive to cataracts. They could be signs of other issues, which is why your annual exam is so important.
Risk increases with age as well as these factors. Do you:
In addition to the above, if you have recently had an injury to the eye, eye surgery, or radiation treatment on the upper half of your body, you’re at a greater risk for cataracts.
While you can’t always prevent all instances of cataracts, there are steps you can take to reduce risk such as:
During a visit with your eye doctor, they will check if you have cataracts, using eye drops to dilate your pupils.