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What are the symptoms of cataracts?

The lens in your eye is used every day and, with age, the proteins inside your lens can clump together and turn the lens cloudy.  There are things you do that increase the chance of getting a cataract.

  1.   Smoking
  2.   Exposure to radiation
  3.   Too much time in the sun without sunglasses
  4.   High blood sugar
  5.   Using steroids

Many people over the age of 40 have cataracts in one or both eyes.  If your eyesight becomes blurry and things seem cloudy you should get your eyes tests for cataracts.  The problem increases over time and your vision will become worse.

There are three types of cataracts, all affecting different parts of the lens:

  1.   Posterior subcapsular cataracts
  2.   Nuclear cataracts in the centre of the lens
  3.   Cortical cataracts on the side of the lens, appearing as small streaks

Sometimes people with nuclear cataracts might see their vision improve briefly.  This is sometimes referred to as “second sight”.

As cataracts advance they darken with a yellow or brown tinge which can affect night vision and make driving more difficult at night.  If you think you have cataracts don’t drive at night if your vision is affected.  All the light coming into your eye will have a yellow tinge and this will affect how you see colour and will also reduce your ability to distinguish between different colours.  If you have surgery you should be able to see colours again.

Sensitivity to light is another common symptom of cataracts, especially for those with posterior subcapsular cataracts.  These start at the back of the lens and block the path of light, affecting your reading ability.

People with cataracts often describe a halo appearing around light sources.  This is another reason to avoid driving at night as it can seriously affect your vision.

If you are replacing your glasses regularly you might have cataracts.  You must see an optician if your eyesight is deteriorating quickly.  You might have cataracts or another eye disease that can possibly be treated if caught early.

You might have double vision (diplopia) as the diffraction from the lens clouding in a cataract can make you see two (or sometimes more) images of a single object.  There are other causes of double vision so be sure to see your optician asap if you get this symptom.

Cataracts can cause changes in vision and they occur in people of all ages.  Certain medications and conditions can increase the risk of cataracts, even in the young.

If you have any changes in your vision you should see an optician so they can diagnose your sight problems properly.  If you would prefer the optician to come to your home and give you an NHS eye test there, please get in touch at www.communitycareopticians.co.uk

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