What are the symptoms of a Cataract?

when you See Better, you Live Better
Cataracts get to a point when even glasses can not correct it.

Imagine light coming through a clear piece of glass. It will shine bright beams of light into the room. Now imagine light coming through a brown frosted piece of glass. The light will be scattered and the whole glass will be glared out from the scatter. This is what cataracts do to your vision!

The most common symptoms of cataracts are:

  • Glare – especially at night while driving – Because there is scattering of light, oncoming head lights can be blinding.  Glare from the sun when it’s close to the horizon can also be blinding.
  • Trouble seeing/reading in dim light – We all need help reading after the age of 40 but as cataracts worsen, there is a need for MUCH more lighting and magnification to see smaller print.
  • Loss of Contrast Sensitivity – Contrast sensitivity is the ability to distinguish finer details.  This becomes almost impossible as cataracts worsen and is actually the earliest symptoms.
  • Color Washout – There’s increasing difficulty separating subtle color differences.  “Is it black is it navy?  Who knows…..”

In general an overall “Decrease in Vision” is noticed.  You realize you “just don’t see as well as you used to.”  

As vision deteriorates, most people end up at the Eye Doctor.  It is the doctor that cataracts are diagnosed.  In the early cataract stages, patients are simply counseled and reassured about the signs and symptoms.  Glasses and/or contacts are prescribed to help improve vision.   

Eventually cataracts get so bad that even glasses and contacts can not improve it.
When Cataracts get so bad yo can’t see better with glasses, it’s time to have surgery.

Once you have been diagnosed with Cataracts it can take 10-20 years before they get bad enough to come out.  Most patients come in every year or so and get glasses updated to adjust for the vision changes which are slow and steady.  This is an important point.  Vision change from Cataracts is SLOWLY PROGRESSIVE, kind of like a glacier moving, it’s barely noticeable except over long periods.  RAPID, SUDDEN changes in vision is SOMETHING else that possibly requires immediate intervention.  If you have SUDDEN changes in vision, get seen IMMEDIATELY. 

Once it gets to a point that the vision CAN NOT be improved with glasses and/or contacts OR the symptoms get bad enough to affect your QUALITY of LIFE then it’s time to consider cataract surgery.

In the old days of cataract surgery, Surgeons used to say your cataract needs to be “Ripe” before it comes out.  What does “ripe” mean?  Some of you may have heard your eye doctor tell you that.  I have questioned NUMEROUS surgeons who still use that term and no one can agree on what “Ripe” means.  

“Ripe” is used to describe bananas, not cataracts.

Here’s the way I approach cataracts and cataract surgery.  Life is too short to walk around with blurred vision.  Once a cataract gets to a point where it’s affecting your QUALITY of LIFE then that cataract is doing you NO GOOD!  It’s time to take it out.


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