This is a very common question I get from patients as they age. I tell them, just like gray hair and wrinkles, we all get cataracts. It just depends on if they develop to the point that it affects vision. Now, I am speaking to age-related cataracts, as certain drugs and systemic conditions can cause other types of cataracts to form earlier in age and more rapidly in onset.
Simply put, a cataract is when the lens of your eye begins to turn cloudy, yellow, and become less transparent. This makes it harder for light to enter the eye and vision becomes blurry. This can be caused by normal aging processes, your overall health and lifestyle (diabetes, smoking, etc. increase cataract formation), or from excess exposure to UV light.
Common symptoms that a person will note:
- blurry vision that cannot be corrected with a new glasses prescription
- excess glare and halos when driving at night
- the inability to read in dim or lowlight conditions
- the feeling like your glasses are always dirty or like you are constantly looking through a dirty windshield
- colors seem less bright and less vivid and more yellow-ish in hue
The good thing is that surgery to take care of cataracts is relatively routine and once done, you will not only improve vision, but you may not need glasses to see at distance anymore. If there is any doubt, scheduling an eye exam is the best way to know if cataracts are affecting your vision.