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5 Symptoms of Cataracts You Should Know

Most people don’t give a second thought to dangerous diseases and health conditions until they sneak up on them. But if you’re over 40 and/or have certain ongoing medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity, or you’re a smoker, heavy drinker, or avid tanner, you may be at risk. In fact, more than 24 million Americans have cataracts, a cloudy film that affects the lens behind your iris and can lead to blindness. 

Dr. Phillip Wu, our board-certified ophthalmologist here at Suburban Eye Clinic in Evanston, Illinois, helps you detect cataracts early so you can wear the appropriate lens prescription. When we catch cases of cataracts early, they typically don’t require surgery. But as your cataracts progress, you may eventually need Dr. Wu to perform cataract surgery to remove them and restore your vision. 

Here are five of the most common signs and symptoms of cataracts that should prompt you to make an appointment with Dr. Wu.

1. Light bothers you

In addition to the milky white or yellowish film that begins to coat your eye, one of the most common signs of cataracts is light sensitivity. When you have cataracts and are exposed to bright light, it can be quite painful. This is especially true if you have a cataract that starts toward the back of your lens, blocking light from reaching your retina. 

2. You see halos around objects and lights

In a healthy eye, light passes through the lens with clarity and focus. But a cloudy lens with cataracts causes the light entering your eye to diffract or disburse. When this happens, you notice rings or halos around light sources. These visual disturbances can appear in a variety of colors and impact your ability to drive safely at night.

3. It becomes hard to see

One of the telltale signs of cataracts is the need for increasingly stronger eyeglass prescriptions. That's because cataracts are progressively deteriorating your vision. As clumps of protein build up on your lens, less light reaches your retina, which causes blurry vision. Because cataracts rarely stay small, your sight becomes consistently worse, growing duller or blurrier.

4. You have double vision

Diplopia, or double vision, may be a symptom of several different eye conditions, but cataracts are the most common cause. Ask yourself these questions:

If you answered yes to any or all of these, it’s time to come see Dr. Wu and get checked for cataracts. 

5. Color changes

When you slip on a pair of amber-lens sunglasses, the whole world takes on a golden hue. If that happens to you without the shades, it could be a sign of cataracts. That’s because the protein building up on your lens can become brownish or yellow in color. This tints the light passing through your eye, causing everything to have a yellowish tinge. 

It’s common for people with cataracts to have difficulty not only seeing color, but also differentiating between different shades of color.

Cataract surgery

If Dr. Wu determines that cataract surgery is the best treatment, don’t worry. Not only is he a highly qualified and experienced surgeon, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical eye procedures and is very safe.

Your cataract surgery is also painless, as your eye is completely numb thanks to a local anesthesia. He may use ultrasound waves to break your cataract into pieces that he quickly suctions away, or he may make a tiny incision to remove the faulty lens. He then replaces it with a new intraocular lens, and it becomes a permanent part of your eye.

The whole procedure takes about a half an hour, and your vision returns to normal immediately. You may have some slight discomfort for a day or two, and complete healing may take up to a couple of months. 

There’s no reason to live with cataracts — and every reason not to. If you suspect that you or a loved one might be suffering from cloudy lenses, call our Evanston, Illinois, office or book an appointment online today. You can also send a message to Dr. Wu and the team here on our website.

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