What are the first signs of cataracts?

As we age, our vision changes. Sometimes these changes mean you need to increase the strength of your glasses prescription, but other changes may be a sign of something more serious.

Cataracts, for example, affect more than 3.5 million Canadians every year and are the leading cause of blindness in Canada. Cataracts form naturally as we age. If left untreated, they can cause significant vision loss.

“It’s so important that everyone is proactive about their eye health, especially if there are changes in their vision,” says Dr. Kathy Cao, a Canadian ophthalmologist. “Canadian seniors should be getting eye exams at least once a year to stay on top of their eye health.”

If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms, it may be a sign of cataracts.

Cloudy or blurry vision. With cataracts, it can seem like you are looking through a foggy window. Over time, the cloudy area will get larger and your vision may become duller and more blurry.

Trouble seeing at night. As cataracts get worse, they block light from reaching the retina and can make it harder to see or drive at night.

Light and glare sensitivity. Cataracts can make your eyes more sensitive to light. You may notice that indoor lights seem too bright and may have trouble seeing in bright sunlight.

Seeing “halos” around street lights. Seeing halos around lights is one of the most common symptoms of cataracts and is caused by light being dispersed abnormally as it enters the eye.

Fading or yellowing colours. Cataracts may cause colours to appear faded, and your vision may also start to have a yellowish-brown tinge. This is gradual at first, but can worsen over time.

Double vision. Cataracts can sometimes cause double vision, where you see two images of a single object at the same time. This occurs even when you have one eye open.

Frequent changes in your prescription. A sometimes unexpected effect of cataracts is that you may find you need to change your glasses and contact lens prescriptions more frequently.

A survey commissioned by Alcon Canada found that changes in vision were the most common topic Canadian seniors had discussed with their eye doctors. However, among patients who had cataracts, only 34 per cent said they had a full understanding of their condition.

The only way to repair cataracts is surgery. Modern cataract surgery is a routine procedure where a surgeon replaces the natural clouded lens of the eye with an artificial lens.

Visit your eye care professional to learn more about cataracts, cataract surgery and lens options. Find more information at seethefullpicture.ca.

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