What are the first signs of cataracts?

As our eyes age, many of us experience vision changes or become affected by cloudy patches on the lenses called cataracts. Over time, these patches can cause a range of symptoms from blurred vision to difficulty seeing at night. Cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye problems, affecting around 30% of people aged 65 or over. According to the NHS, more than 400,000 cataract surgeries are performed every year in England. Here, we discuss the first signs of cataracts and what your options are should you develop them. 

Signs you have cataracts

A range of symptoms can present themselves if you are developing cataracts. These include:

1. Blurry vision

2. Colours seeming faded

3. Sensitivity to light

4. Difficulty seeing at night

5. Difficulty driving or reading road signs, even with the correct prescription glasses

6. Double vision

Cataracts typically affect both eyes, although they can develop faster in one eye than the other. 

Causes of cataracts

The majority of cases of cataracts are age-related. Around the age of 40, the proteins in the lens of the eye begin to break down and clump together. This produces cloudy areas on the lens, which can worsen with time. 

Some factors can increase the risk of cataracts. These include diabetes, previous eye surgery to treat conditions such as glaucoma, and the use of steroids to treat health issues such as arthritis. 

Diagnosis and treatment of cataracts

If you have noticed any of the above symptoms, the easiest way to get confirmation that you have cataracts is by searching ‘eye check near me’ and booking an eye exam. Experienced opticians can carry out a dilated eye exam, where drops are used to widen your pupil, enabling the professional to determine whether you have cataracts. 

If you do have cataracts, you have several options. Since cataracts do not harm your eyes, you can choose to leave them alone. You can use a range of aids and adaptations to help you cope, such as reading large print books, ensuring you always have adequate lighting, using sunglasses to reduce glare and keeping your prescription glasses up to date. However, you may find that over time your eyesight declines further. 

Many people choose to have cataract surgery. This is usually performed with a local anaesthetic, which numbs the area around the eye. The lens is then removed and replaced with a clear plastic lens. The surgery takes around 30 minutes and recovery takes four to six weeks. Surgery is effective for 80-90% of people. 

How to slow the development of cataracts

It may be many years between the first signs of cataracts emerging and them becoming an issue. Some people never experience them as a problem that affects day-to-day life. If you want to reduce the risk of cataracts, however, there are several lifestyle choices you can make:

1. Quit smoking

2. Reduce alcohol intake

3. Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals

4. Wear sunglasses

5. Manage health conditions such as diabetes by following your treatment plan

Book an eye exam

If you’re worried about your eye health or simply need a check up from an experienced professional, get in touch with The Eye Establishment today. Search ‘eye optician near me’ to find details of our Kensington optician, and select the ‘Book Eye Exam’ option to make an appointment and receive a quote for your eye exam cost. Our experts will carry out a full sight test and eye health assessment to ensure you are on top of your vision needs.