Most people age 80 and older have either developed cataracts or have already had cataract surgery. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most common vision surgeries in the United States. But how do you know if you have cataracts, and when should you get surgical intervention?
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, can conduct a cataract consultation to see if you’re showing signs of developing cataracts. If you are, she can discuss the next steps with you.
The lens of the eye is shaped roughly like a grape, and when you see an object, the lens contracts and expands to focus the light rays onto the retina. The retina then sends the resulting image to the brain over the optic nerve pathway.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens. With a cloudy lens, the lens cannot focus light onto the retina. Instead, the light disperses as it passes through the lens, leading to a distorted image.
The three main types of cataracts are the following:
Cataracts that affect the front of the lens are called cortical cataracts. These cataracts look like wedges or spokes in a wheel.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts
Cataracts that affect the center of the lens are called nuclear sclerotic cataracts. These cataracts start out looking like a clear film but turn yellow or brown with age.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts
Cataracts that affect the back of the lens are called posterior subcapsular cataracts. These cataracts are grainy in appearance.
Cataracts don’t usually show up in people under age 50, but in rare cases, infants or children with eye trauma or who have taken certain medications can develop cataracts. Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes. The condition doesn’t spread from one eye to another, but having cataracts develop in both eyes is typical.
Signs and symptoms of cataracts
If you have any of the following symptoms, especially if you’re over age 50, you could have cataracts. Cataract symptoms can overlap stages:
Early stage cataracts
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light and glare
Immature stage cataracts
- Cloudy vision, especially in the center of focus
- Perceived “halos” around lights
Mature stage cataracts
- Poor low-light and night vision
- Yellowish or faded colors in vision
- A rapidly changing prescription for eyeglasses or contacts
- Severely degraded vision
Delays in treatment can cause more severe symptoms
Don’t delay in seeking treatment for cataracts if you have the symptoms above. Waiting to get treatment for cataracts could cause:
- Sudden, disturbing vision changes
- Double vision
- Flashes of light
- Sudden eye pain
- Eye inflammation
- Sudden headache
- Loss of vision
Getting a cataract screening can show you if you have cataracts and help your provider assess your risks for severe symptoms. If you do have advanced cataracts, surgery is an option. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem VistaSite Eye Care today.