You will probably not notice when cataracts first start to develop. Early cataracts are microscopically small and although they do block a tiny amount of light, it is not enough to cause any obvious vision impairment. There is no redness, pain, itching or swelling, and no discharge from the eyes.
Cataracts do not damage any other eye structures. Many years usually pass before a person notices the vision changes that indicate cataracts. They usually form in both eyes but in some cases they develop more quickly in one eye. For more on how cataracts begin, please see Causes of Cataracts.
Over time, as the clouded area (opacity) in the lens expands, more light is blocked from reaching the retina. The opacity scatters light, and that causes fogginess or dimness in vision. There may also be:
With these symptoms, you will probably have some trouble with daily activities, whether work-related or for recreation. You may experience problems with night driving, because lights seem too bright. It may become difficult to engage in sports such as golf, travel to unfamiliar places may present problems, and close work such as reading or sewing will be affected.
You may also feel eye strain in general and find yourself blinking in an attempt to clear your vision.
Early cataract symptoms can be dealt with by updating your glasses or contact lenses, using a magnifying glass for close vision, and by using brighter light for close tasks.
Once cataracts start to form, they do not go away. They continue to expand and can eventually fill the entire lens. This gives a white appearance and is called an “overripe” cataract (hypermature). At this stage, you may experience pain and inflammation in the eyes, and also headaches.
There is no need to wait until this “overripe” stage to obtain cataract treatment. Your eye doctor will recommend Lens Replacement Surgery well before this stage, usually when your decreasing eyesight becomes too much of a problem in daily life. You can discuss this with your eye doctor and together you can determine the best time to go ahead with cataract surgery.
To locate a cataract surgeon in your area, please visit our Eye Doctor Directory.