If you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract, you may or may not be experiencing symptoms. Most age-related cataracts tend to grow slowly, causing vision to gradually decline over time. In fact, the changes in your vision may be so subtle in the beginning that you may not even realize you have a cataract.
But eventually cataracts do get larger, and they do affect vision. Typical symptoms include blurry, cloudy or dim vision, sensitivity to light, and fading or yellowing of colors. Most people find that they eventually require more light to read and frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.
When cataracts begin to interfere with your vision, they may also interfere with your everyday life. There are some surprising ways that cataracts can interfere with enjoyable activities. Here are five:
1. It’s tough to read your favorite magazines
When cloudy areas known as cataracts form in the lens of the eye, vision can become blurry or hazy, making it very difficult to read. But what can also happen is that the normally transparent lens can change color, becoming yellowish or brownish. This discoloration can make it very difficult to distinguish between certain colors, especially dark blue, brown, black, green and purple. This reduced ability to distinguish color can also make it challenging to read black text on a dark background.
2. Simple movements like walking can be challenging
A less common but problematic cataract symptom that some people experience is double vision. And double vision can make it difficult to judge where you are in relation to your surroundings. It can also make it too easy to trip on the edge of a rug or mistakenly skip a stair when walking down steps. Cataracts can make simple everyday activities like walking both difficult and unsafe.
3. It’s frustrating to cook your favorite meals
Even if you’ve made your favorite meal hundreds of times and don’t need to read the recipe, cataracts can still interfere with your ability to cook. Blurred and cloudy vision can make it difficult to read labels, measure ingredients and distinguish whether your meal is over or under cooked.
4. It’s difficult to drive after dark
As cataracts progress, night vision becomes more and more impaired. Notably, some of the biggest complaints from cataract patients are seeing halos around lights and experiencing glare from oncoming headlights. Seeing starburst patterns around lights is another symptom of cataracts. Unfortunately, all of these visual disturbances add up to difficulty driving after the sun goes down.
5. Hobbies become less enjoyable
Whether you love to fish, sew or take photographs, dull, cloudy or discolored vision can impact participation in and enjoyment from your favorite hobbies. For outdoor enthusiasts, the colors of nature may become less vibrant. For golfers, blurry vision may make it difficult to focus on the ball. And when cataracts make it hard to read, playing cards can become frustrating. Whatever you love to do, if cataracts keep you from doing it, it may be time to consider cataract surgery.
Most eye doctors will recommend surgery when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life. Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed today. And recent technological advancements in intraocular lenses mean that doctors can even correct vision across a range of distances, reducing the need for glasses post-surgery.
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