Problems seeing shapes against a background or the difference between shades of colors
Seeing halos around lights
Cataracts generally lead to decreased vision, even in daylight. Most people with cataracts have similar changes in both eyes, although one eye may be worse than the other. Many people with this condition have only mild vision changes.
The following may help people who have an early cataract:
As vision gets worse, you may need to make changes around the home to avoid falls and injuries.
The only treatment for a cataract is surgery to remove it. Surgery is done if you cannot perform normal activities, such as driving, reading, or looking at computer or video screens, even with glasses.
If a cataract is not bothersome, surgery is usually not necessary. Cataracts usually do not harm your eye, so you can have surgery when it is convenient for you.
However, some people may have additional eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy, that cannot be treated without first having cataract surgery.
Vision may not improve to 20/20 after cataract surgery if other eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, are present. Ophthalmologists can usually, but not always, determine this in advance.
Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing permanent vision problems.
Although rare, a cataract that goes on to an advanced stage (called a hypermature cataract) can begin to leak into other parts of the eye. This may cause a painful form of glaucoma and inflammation inside the eye.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have:
Decreased night vision
Problems with glare
The best prevention involves controlling diseases that increase the risk of a cataract, and avoiding exposure to factors known to promote cataract formation.
Wearing sunglasses when you are outside during the day can reduce the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light your eyes are exposed to. Some sunglasses do not filter out the harmful UV. An optician should be able to tell you which sunglasses filter out the most UV. For patients who smoke cigarettes, quitting will decrease the risk of cataracts.
Zigler JS Jr, Datiles MB III. Pathogenesis of cataracts. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011:chap 72B.
Howes FW. Indications for lens surgery/indications for application of different lens surgery techniques. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 5.4.
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.