Cataracts: Symptoms and Causes

Eye Health
By: Spirit Dental
September 15, 2021

senior couple looking smiling affectionately

The lens of your eye, which is located behind the iris, is normally clear, allowing for light to pass through so you can see well. But when a cataract forms on the lens, it causes it to become cloudy or foggy, inhibiting the amount of light that can get through. And that results in changes in your vision because your eye isn’t able to focus like it should. 

Cataracts are a common problem, and many seniors end up needing surgery to replace the lens and restore vision in one or both eyes. Being aware of the causes may help you take steps to reduce the risk of cataracts, while being familiar with the symptoms can help you recognize the problem if it develops, so we cover both the causes and symptoms of cataracts below. 

What can cause cataracts?

You might develop a cataract simply as a result of the aging process. Basically, as you get older, the lens changes and the proteins in it break down. As they clump together, those proteins can cause clouding.  

These changes to the lens might start when you’re around 40 years old, but you might not notice a problem until years later. That’s right: a cataract can progress over time, making the cloudiness—and your vision—worse.  

In addition to being a part of the aging process, there are certain conditions, medications, injuries, and habits that might lead to cataracts or speed up their development. Here are some examples:

  • Diabetes
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Other eye problems
  • Eye injury (the cataract might even form years after an injury!)
  • Certain medications, such as steroids 
  • Radiation treatment, particularly to the upper part of the body
  • Exposing the eyes to too much sunlight by not wearing sunglasses or hats
  • Drinking a lot of alocohol
  • Smoking

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

When a cataract is first forming, you might not realize that there’s a problem. Over time, though, as the cataract expands and covers more of the lens, you may start to notice changes in your vision. 

Here are some of the ways in which your vision might change because of cataracts:

  • Blurriness
  • Vision that’s described as foggy, hazy, or cloudy
  • Faced colors
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Needing more light for doing things like reading
  • Double vision
  • Halos or glare surrounding lights
  • Sensitivity to lights (such as from lamps or sunlight), which might appear brighter than they should
  • The need to change your prescription more often than usual 

Your eye doctor can be there to help you see clearly again

Keep in mind that cataracts symptoms may come on slowly because this condition typically develops slowly. And it’s important to talk to an eye doctor as soon as you notice changes in your vision so you can figure out if a cataract is to blame. 

At first, your eye doctor might recommend changing your prescription to cope with the changes caused by a cataract. But if it gets to the point that you’re finding it really hard to see clearly and do things like drive or read, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the cataract and prevent further vision loss. 

Take great care of your eyes with the help of vision insurance!

A last note: the symptoms caused by cataracts might also be associated with other conditions, so it’s critical that you get the right diagnosis and pursue the best treatment to save your vision. Again, don’t hesitate to talk about your symptoms and have your eyes carefully examined by a professional. 

If you’re concerned about being able to afford trips to the eye doctor, Spirit is here to help. With the right vision insurance, you can worry less about the cost of eye exams and prescription glasses or contacts, so you won’t need to waste any time when you need to address changes in your vision.   





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