Spotting the symptoms is key to treating cataracts

Spotting the symptoms is key to treating cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition that often affects people as they age. In fact, more than half of Americans age 80 and older have a cataract or had cataract surgery. With symptoms of blurry, dim vision that gets worse over time, cataracts can cause blindness if left untreated.

Spreading the word that early diagnosis and treatment can help preserve vision and offering tips is critical to help people recognize symptoms so they don’t delay in getting effective treatment, according to Lighthouse Guild, a national charitable organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss through consumer advocacy and care programs.

“Early intervention is key,” said Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, chief of low-vision services for Lighthouse Guild. “The best way to know if your symptoms are caused by cataracts or another eye disorder is to see an eye care professional for a vision test and comprehensive dilated eye exam.”

A cataract is a clouding of a lens in the eye. Leading causes are age, smoking, and diabetes, with increased risk from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet sunlight and a family history of cataracts. Cataracts may also develop after eye surgery or an eye injury.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Seeing faded colors.
  • Glare, with headlights, lamp, or sunlight appearing too bright.
  • Seeing a halo around lights.
  • Worse vision at night.
  • Double vision or seeing multiple images.
  • Needing to change eyeglas or contact lens prescriptions often.

“The early symptoms of cataracts may improve with new glasses, antiglare sunglasses, magnifying lenses, or brighter lighting,” Rosenthal said. “But if you don’t see enough improvement in your vision, you may need surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens.”

Surgery needed on both eyes is usually done separately, about four weeks apart, he added.

More information from Lighthouse Guild, including technological innovations that Rosenthal said are removing barriers for people who are blind or visually impaired, is available at