The 7 Silent Signs of Cataracts

Just like with a camera, our eyes contain a lens to help us focus. As we age, that naturally clear lens of our eye gradually becomes cloudy and forms what is known as a cataract. Cataracts are a common cause of vision problems, but the signs of cataracts can be subtle.

At Florida Eye Specialists, our dedicated doctors are here to help patients see clearly again. We sat down with Steven R. Maier, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in cataract and refractive surgery, including LASIK surgery. Before joining our team, Dr. Maier served as the Ophthalmology Department Head at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Jacksonville.

Dr. Maier explained that many patients dismiss the early signs of cataracts, not realizing they don’t have to live with dull, cloudy vision.

“Don’t settle for what you think may just be normal aging changes,” Dr. Maier said. “While we all do get cataracts if we live long enough, they’re not a necessary evil. We can address them quickly with cataract surgery to vastly improve your quality of life.”

Don’t overlook these subtle signs that you may have cataracts.

The 7 Silent Signs of Cataracts

Dr. Maier explained that cataract development is often a slow, gradual process, and it doesn’t hurt. That’s why many people simply adapt to vision changes over time, rather than seeing an eye doctor. 

“They don’t realize this can be fixed with cataract surgery, which can make life so much easier,” he said. 

If you experience any of these signs, you may need to schedule an eye exam.

1) Trouble With Night Driving

“If I suspect cataracts, the first thing I ask my patients is, ‘Are you driving at night?’ My cataract patients often say no, they don’t drive at night. They don’t trust their vision anymore,” Dr. Maier explained. 

Many people don’t know that cataracts can give you trouble when driving in dark or rainy conditions. You might notice that you’re having problems reading road signs at night or that headlights from other vehicles cause a lot of glare. Since this can make driving at night dangerous, make sure you have your eyes examined for cataracts.

“If you’re having trouble driving at night due to cataracts, we can fix that,” said Dr. Maier. “You can get that sight back. You can drive safely in the dark and the rain again.”

2) Blurry Vision

Blurry vision is one of the most common signs of cataracts. When this cloudiness develops, it might only cause slight blurriness at first, especially if it only affects a small area of your lens. As cataracts grow, your vision might become increasingly blurry.

3) Seeing Double

Cataracts can cause you to see double in the affected eye. This can occur as cataracts cause distortions in the way light passes through the lens. As the cloudiness in the lens becomes more widespread, double vision can occur.

4) Difficulty Reading Small Print

Trouble reading small print is common as you age, but it’s important to have an eye doctor check to see if this is due to cataracts. As cataracts develop, the affected lens can’t allow as much light to pass through into the eye. This change can make it more difficult to read small print, especially in darker settings like reading a menu at a restaurant. 

5) Increased Light Sensitivity

As cataracts grow, they make it harder for light to get through your lens clearly. As light becomes scattered, you might have problems with glare and light sensitivity. Brighter sources of light, such as overhead lights, headlights from oncoming cars, or sunlight, might seem too harsh for your eyes.

6) More Frequent Lens Prescription Changes

While your nearsightedness might improve slightly when you first develop cataracts, this is only temporary. As cataracts develop, you might find that you need to have your lens prescription for eyeglasses or contacts changed more often. Make sure you have routine eye exams done, even if your vision seems to have improved. 

7) Colors Look More Faded

Cataracts can cause colors to look faded or less vivid than usual. As this cloudiness becomes worse, you might also notice that whites seem more yellowish. Keep in mind that this sign of cataracts usually happens slowly, so you might not realize just how faded colors look until later down the road.

The Benefits of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a safe and common outpatient procedure to remove cataracts and replace them with new, clear lenses. Some patients put off surgery because they are worried about the outcomes, but Dr. Maier explained the procedure is easier than one may believe.

“There’s typically no pain. You might experience some dry eye symptoms for a short while, but typically that’s it,” he said. Dr. Maier said that the effects are almost immediate, with most patients experiencing improved vision by the next day.

“After surgery, my patients are amazed,” he said. “They’ll say things like, ‘I never knew how much dust I had in the house!’ Or, ‘My wife might’ve been right about that paint color!’ It’s those fine details and vibrant colors they pick up on again.”

Test Drive Your Vision With the Light Adjustable Lens

Dr. Maier explained that the latest advancement in cataract surgery is the Light Adjustable Lens™ (LAL). The LAL is a groundbreaking cataract lens implant that allows doctors to fine-tune vision correction after surgery. Patients can make changes to tailor their vision to their lifestyle, much like adjusting glasses or contacts. 

“To adjust the lenses after we put them in the eyes is a fantastic leap beyond prior technology,” Dr. Maier said. “My patients truly enjoy the process of living with their vision for a few weeks and then adjusting it to how they like it. They find the ‘touch up’ period a cool experience having control of their own vision.”

Following cataract surgery with this advanced lens, patients consult with their eye doctor to choose the best prescription. Florida Eye Specialists is proud to offer this innovative technology at multiple locations across Northeast Florida for convenient treatments.

Self-Test for Cataracts

Assessing your vision regularly is crucial for detecting early signs of cataracts. Take a moment to evaluate your vision with our simple self-assessment quiz to help you identify potential symptoms of cataracts and determine if you need to schedule an eye exam for further evaluation.

Catch Cataract Signs Early With Florida Eye Specialists

Routine eye exams, especially as you get older, are an important part of catching cataracts early and creating a treatment plan to prevent symptoms from worsening. Contact Florida Eye Specialists today to request an appointment with a board-certified ophthalmologist for your next eye exam. We look forward to providing you with excellence in eye care.