Unfortunately, changes in our vision are common, especially as we age. If you’re experiencing clouded or blurry vision, it’s possible that you’re among the 3.5 million Canadians affected by cataracts.
Cataracts typically develop slowly over time and cause a myriad of symptoms. They occur from a breakdown in proteins and fibres in the lens, making it less flexible and less transparent. While most people with cataracts will be affected in both eyes, they don’t always develop at the same rate or severity.
There are several types of cataracts, but the most common one is nuclear cataracts that form at the centre of the lens, leading to nearsightedness. Other types like cortical cataracts may form on the outer edges, scattering light and affecting both far and near vision. Posterior subcapsular cataracts form on the back of the lens and block light, and congenital cataracts affect some babies at birth.
Risks & prevention
The biggest risk factor for developing cataracts is ageing. They’re the most common age-related eye condition and can begin around age 40, although most people won’t notice symptoms for years.
Other risks include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and alcohol consumption. If you’ve suffered eye injuries or had past eye surgeries, you’re also at an increased risk for cataracts.
Keeping your health conditions in check can help prevent the development of cataracts. Diabetes should be well managed and medications taken regularly. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables to ensure you get the proper nutrients. Reduce your alcohol consumption and if you’re a smoker, get support to help you quit.
Avoid exposure to UV light. Wearing eye protection like sunglasses and hats if you’re out in the sun can help reduce the amount of UV light that enters your eyes.
If you’ve been experiencing any symptoms or changes in your vision, book an appointment to come see us as soon as possible. Our team is highly skilled at identifying and treating cataracts before the symptoms become worse. Even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, regular eye exams can help identify conditions like cataracts early, improving your prognosis and treatment options.
We’ve already mentioned that cloudy or blurry vision are common symptoms of cataracts, but there are also numerous others that may indicate their development.
Unclear vision, worsening night vision, or halos around bright lights can all be caused by cataracts. You may have increased sensitivity to light or notice that your corrective lenses suddenly lose their effectiveness. Even double vision, which can be a very frightening symptom, can be attributed to cataracts. Others may notice that their vision is overall dimmer, or that the ability to detect colour is fading.
Since these symptoms tend to develop over a longer period of time, you may not notice them when cataracts first form. That’s why it’s important to have your eyes checked regularly to identify any issues with your vision and eye health.
Early treatment options for cataracts may include increasing the brightness of lighting or prescribing a stronger corrective lens. However, the progressive nature of cataract development means that you may require more invasive treatments if your vision continues to be affected.
Thankfully, cataract surgery is relatively quick, painless and non-invasive. It’s a common procedure that can be done in under an hour and is considered both effective and safe. The surgery involves replacing your clouded lens with an artificial and permanent clear one.
Talk to us about your options for managing and treating your cataracts before the symptoms affect your daily routines like reading and driving.
Book now to have your eyes checked
Whether or not you’ve noticed symptoms of cataracts, you’re likely to experience some cataract development as you age. Regular eye exams will identify any changes in your eye health and help preserve your vision.
We have a team of highly skilled optometrists who are able to answer your questions about cataracts and cataract treatments. We recommend annual exams for all adults, which are covered by Alberta Health for seniors over 65 years of age.