Why Cataracts Make Text on Colored Backgrounds Hard to Read

Why Cataracts Make Text on Colored Backgrounds Hard to Read

So you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts. You may be experiencing common symptoms like needing more light to read, difficulty driving at night due to glare, or blurry vision. But one symptom can sometimes take people by surprise – the diminished ability to read text on colored backgrounds.


To understand why it’s hard to read things like brochures and advertisements when the backgrounds are colorful, such as those in shades of green, blue or purple, let’s start by looking at what causes a cataract to begin with.


As We Age

 As we age, the lenses in our eyes become less flexible, less transparent, and thicker. Eventually, the tissues within the lens start to break down and clump together, causing cloudy areas to form. It’s these cloudy areas that are the cause of the most common cataract symptoms, like blurry or hazy vision.


When Cataracts Occur

 When cataracts are present, the lens of the eye also gradually changes color. A once clear or transparent lens can become yellowish or brownish. This discoloration can make it difficult to distinguish between certain colors, especially dark blue, brown, black, green, and purple. This reduced ability to perceive color is one of the reasons it can be difficult to read black text on a dark background.


When Your Eye’s Lens Changes Color

 Also, when the lens of the eye changes color, it can degrade the sharpness of our vision, making it more difficult to perceive contrast. For example, looking at a white coffee mug on a light colored tablecloth or a brown chair against a dark rug may become more difficult to see. The same thing applies to reading dark text on a dark background. Eyes with cataracts require increased contrast between the object and the background to make it “stand out.”


And as if those reasons aren’t enough, cataracts can also prevent light from reaching parts of the eye that create an image. So, when text color is too similar to the background color, letters and words may look muddled and difficult to distinguish.


Why Text Gets Harder to Read

Black text on a white background is the easiest for cataract patients to read, but unfortunately, graphic artists are not usually creating images with cataract patients in mind. Fortunately, however, cataract surgery is both safe and effective and replaces the cloudy, discolored lens with an artificial lens that is clear, thus resolving most issues with distinguishing colors, in addition to other cataract symptoms.


If your cataract symptoms are worsening or interfering with your everyday activities, be sure to talk with your doctor.