Common signs and symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision, glare (lights seem brighter than usual), and double vision. Other symptoms include poor night vision and frequent prescription changes in eyeglasses or contacts. For people with a "ripe" (more developed) cataract, symptoms may include difficulty reading.
A cataract is simply the clouding of the lens in the eye. Cataracts are common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. However, it cannot spread from one eye to the other.
A cataract starts out small and has little effect on vision at first. You may notice that your vision is a little blurry -- like looking through a cloudy piece of glass.
A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright, causing a glare. Or, you may notice when you drive at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare than before. Also, colors may not appear as bright to you as they once did.
As the cataract gets bigger and clouds more of the lens (healthcare providers use the term "ripens"), you may find it harder to read and do other normal tasks. The word "cataract" means "waterfall," and for people with a ripe cataract, it is like trying to see through a waterfall.
Other cataract symptoms may include:
- Poor night vision
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye (this symptom may go away as the cataract gets larger)
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
In addition to the obvious problems of reduced vision, the visual disability associated with cataracts can have a significant impact on the risk of falls and fractures, your quality of life, and possibly even mortality.