Symptoms and Diagnosing Cataracts

Every day, you use the lens of your eye to read, drive, write, watch over your kids, and much more. The lens of the eye is a clear structure designed to focus images on the retina, which is light-sensitive. As you continue to age, however, the proteins contained in your lens can begin massing together. This will turn your eye’s lens cloudy, which blocks or distorts the passage of light.

This clouding of the eye’s lens, known as a cataract, causes blurred or cloudy vision and other vision problems. In some cases, it can even lead to blindness. People with cataracts often say that their sight is like looking through a waterfall. The word “cataracts” comes from the term for “large waterfall.” It often takes several years for cataracts to distort light rays or prevent light from reaching the light-sensitive retina.


Symptoms of Cataracts


This age-related condition develops gradually over several years. It will not disrupt your vision early on. With time, however, it will eventually affect your eyesight. Eyeglasses and brighter lighting will help deal with the problem at first. If your impaired eyesight begins to interfere with your daily activities, you might need to undergo cataract surgery. Fortunately, this procedure is usually effective and safe.

Symptoms and signs of cataracts include dim, blurred, or cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare and light. Other symptoms include:

  • Visual difficulties at night.

  • Yellowing or fading of colors.

  • Need for stronger lighting when reading or writing.

  • Double vision in one eye.

  • Changing the contact lens and eyeglass prescription frequently.

  • Seeing halos around light bulbs and other lights.

The cloudiness or blurriness in your vision, at first, may affect only a tiny part of your eye’s lens. In many cases, people are not aware of any vision loss at this point. As the cataract continues to grow larger, however, it will start clouding more of the lens. This will distort or block some of the light passing through the lens. This distortion will lead to more obvious symptoms.

When this starts to happen, you need to make an appointment with your doctor for an eye exam. If you start to develop sudden symptoms, such as flashes of light, double vision, sudden headaches, or sudden eye pain, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.


Diagnosing Cataracts


Your doctor will need to review your symptoms and medical history and perform an eye examination to determine whether you have cataracts. Some of the tests the doctor may conduct include a retinal exam, a slit-lamp exam, and a visual acuity test.

The slit-lamp exam will allow your eye doctor to examine the external structure of your eye under magnification. The slit lamp, which is a microscope, uses a concentrated line of light to illuminate your lens, iris, cornea, and space between your cornea and iris. This will allow the doctor to examine the structure in tiny sections, making it easier to detect any irregularities.

The visual acuity test measures how well you can read an eye chart containing a series of letters. Your doctor will test your eyes one at a time while covering the other eye. Using a viewing device or a chart with progressively smaller letters, he or she will determine whether you have signs of vision impairment or if you have 20/20 vision.

Your doctor will prepare you for a retinal exam by putting drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. This will allow him or her to examine your retina using an ophthalmoscope or slit lamp. Using one of these devices, your eye doctor will examine your eye’s lens for any signs of cataracts.


At El Paso Eyecare, we believe in value, service, and quality. We use the most advanced eye care practices to restore, preserve, and enhance our patients’ vision. To learn more about our eye care services, call (915)745-7960 today. You can also visit our offices in El Paso, Texas.