August is Cataract Awareness Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages Americans to know their risks, especially people who smoke, have diabetes, or have a family history of cataract.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. As a result, you may not immediately notice changes in your vision when cataracts first develop. Also, the amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that you have a cataract.
In time, you may have symptoms such as:
- Painless clouded, blurry or dim vision;
- Increasing difficulty seeing at night or in low light;
- Sensitivity to light and glare, seeing haloes around lights;
- Colors seem faded or yellowed;
- The need for brighter light for reading and other activities;
- Needing frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription; or
- Double vision within one eye.
Once I know I have cataracts, what should I do?
- Have an eye exam every year if you’re older than 65, or every two years if younger.
- Protect your eyes from UV light by wearing 100 percent UV blocking sunglasses and a hat.
- If you smoke, quit; smoking can increase cataract progression.
- Use brighter lights for reading and other activities; a magnifying glass may be useful, too.
- Limit night driving once night vision, haloes or glare become problems.
- Take care of any other health problems, especially diabetes.
- Get the right eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct your vision; when it becomes too difficult to complete your regular activities, consider cataract surgery.