When you are young, the lens of your eye would be clear but when you get old, the lens will get hardened and denser while the tissues will begin to break down causing cataracts. What is the first sign of cataracts?
Over 24.4 million people over the age of 40 in the United States alone have been affected by cataracts. It’s been projected that by the year 2050, as many as 50 million Americans will develop cataracts.
Cataracts will give you clouded vision, making it more difficult to read, drive a car, or see the expression on a person’s face. It is best to prevent it before you get it. In this article, we will be discussing what is the first sign of cataracts, and whether are there any ways you can make to prevent them from causing them.
What is a cataract?
A cataract forms in the lens of the eye and seems to be a dense and cloudy area. The light that comes through the lens will be converted into signals by the retina. It sends the signals to the optic nerve, and that nerve carries them to the brain.
The cataract comes when proteins in the eye form clumps, which prevents the lens from sending clear images to the retina, making it difficult for you to see. It develops slowly and interferes with your vision.
You can’t have more than one cataract in an eye and they cannot spread from one eye to the other. It starts small but gradually worsens and its effects on a person’s vision become more noticeable over time as they mature. Eventually, an untreated cataract can cause significant vision loss and even total blindness.
But if untreated, you end up with cataracts in both eyes in a different period.
What is the first sign of cataracts?
If you get older and maybe you doubt having cataracts, or your friends might have cataracts If you wonder “What is the first sign of cataracts?”
But the fact is that there are no definite signs in the earliest stages of cataracts. But there are a few early symptoms of cataracts.
- Blurry or clouded vision – This is one of the most obvious answers to What is the first sign of cataracts. There appear noticeable fuzzy spots in your field of vision and these spots typically start small. But over time they will worsen, and it would make your daily activities harder than they were before.
So if you feel a sudden and persistent cloudy vision, it is better to see an eye doctor as soon as possible before your vision gets any worse.
- Poor night vision – When you get Cataracts, it would change the way light enters your eye. You will feel the lights often appear brighter, and this may make your eyes more sensitive.
People with cataracts will experience increased contrast at night making it difficult to see at night, especially when driving. If you have noticed difficulty in seeing or driving at night, it could be a sign of cataracts.
- Sensitivity to light – One of the common symptoms of cataracts and if asked what is the first sign of cataracts, then sensitivity to light is one. When you glare at the bright lights, it can be painful, especially for those with posterior subcapsular cataracts. These types of cataracts start at the back of the lens, blocking the path of light and often interfering with your reading vision.
- Double vision in one eye – Even if you’re wearing glasses or contacts your vision becomes blurry or doubled. You will experience double vision in one eye, and simple tasks like reading or focusing on someone’s face can become challenging. If you change eyeglasses and even if that doesn’t improve the quality of your vision, it could indicate cataracts.
- The appearance of Halos – When the eye lens hardens and becomes cloudy, the cataract sufferers will find halos and glare in their field of vision. Light passing through cataracts is diffracted, causing glare around bright sources of light. During the day, these may be difficult to notice but can be immediately noticeable at night.
Other than the above symptoms indicating what is the first sign of cataracts, there are a few symptoms including
- Need for brighter light for simple daily tasks
- Colors that look dull or faded
- Frequently changing glasses prescription
Stages of cataracts
In the first stage of cataracts, they appear to be typically small and do not impact vision. So many of them will not know whether they have cataracts, because there are no specific early-stage symptoms.
But if the cataracts are diagnosed earlier, it would be better to treat them and cure them. with a later-stage cataract, your vision can be significantly impaired. You may experience blurred, cloudy or double vision. While driving, many notice night vision problems.
In the later stages, Cataracts may be visibly noticeable appearing as a milky white spot on the lens to partially or fully cloud the lens while creating difficulty in driving, reading, or watching television.
Cataracts are not typically considered painful, and in their early stages, they may only be a nuisance when it comes to everyday life. Cataracts are typically only noticeable due to their effects on the vision, and if untreated, over time it can lead to negative side effects on the eye.
However, it’s still best to treat cataracts sooner rather than later to protect the long-term health of your eyes.
What Are the Three Types of Cataracts?
There are three main types of cataracts and these types of cataracts are classified based on where and how they develop in the eye.
- Nuclear Sclerotic
- Posterior Subcapsular.
Nuclear Sclerotic cataract
The nucleus, the center, and the lens of the eye get hardened by nuclear sclerotic cataracts. What is the first sign of cataracts of nuclear Sclerotic? Maybe the lens becomes cloudy and yellow before hardening. When this develops, the eye’s ability to focus and see will be changed.
The areas of white cloudiness will develop in the cortex, which is the outer edges of the lens, and spread inward. It will have the appearance of a spoke wheel or a star pattern and it scatters the light entering the eye and causes blurred vision and glare.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataract
This begins on the back (posterior) of the lens as a small, cloudy or opaque area. It develops on the underside or beneath the lens capsule which is a sac-like membrane that encloses the lens and holds it in place.
If this condition develops, it usually does so rapidly and you will notice symptoms within just a few months of its first beginning. When developing a posterior subcapsular cataract, a person may begin to notice a glare or halo effect around lights and may also notice difficulty when reading.
What causes Cataracts?
For most people, Cataracts are not a disease but a natural part of the process of aging. Many may not experience symptoms for months or even years after the cataract develops but 50% of people will develop a cataract by age 65.
When the eye ages, the proteins break down and deposit and get hardened on the lens. It causes the light to scatter rather than focus on the lens. One in five adults will already have early cataract formation in one or both eyes by age 40. It can progress in your 50s, and are usually a concern after age 60.
Cataracts are influenced by genetics and lifestyle factors but either way, cataracts usually progress very slowly. But some things can increase the formation of cataracts.
- Eye surgery or eye injuries
- Radiation treatment to your upper body
- Steroids medication
- Excessive exposure to the sun
- Phenothiazine drugs
Stress could also play a possible role in causing cataracts. If you are under constant stress, it leads the body to create more oxidative stress and can destroy the enzymes and proteins in the lens. This leads to an increase in the chances of developing cataracts.
How to prevent cataracts?
One of the leading causes of blindness in the United States is cataracts. There is no definite way to prevent them, but you can make some lifestyle changes that may help to lower the chances of getting them.
Eat the right foods
You have a chance of reducing the chance of getting cataracts by focusing on your diet. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E may help prevent cataracts. Moreover, If you already have cataracts, it may slow your growth.
You need to make sure that you eat fruits and veggies every day. Just two servings of nuts can provide 8 to 14 milligrams of vitamin E. If you find it hard to include all of this in your daily diet, you can consider multivitamins or supplements. But you need to talk to your doctor first before getting them.
Vitamin C includes,
- Citrus fruits like orange, lime, and grapefruits
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, or wheat germ contain vitamin E, also nuts like almonds. Green veggies like spinach and broccoli also contain vitamin E. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two more vitamins that could help protect your eyes from cataracts. Eggs have them, as do green, leafy vegetables.
Exposure to the sun can cause cataracts due to the ultraviolet rays that can cause changes in the eyes. It damages the protein in your lens. So wearing Sunglasses will help cut your risk of getting cataracts.
There are lots of options for sunglasses that protect your eyes and at the same time look good on you.
Look for sunglasses that fit the face shape and frame close to your eyes. It should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays and screen out 75% to 90% of visible light. When driving, look for a sunglass that has a gray tint.
Check blood sugar
People who have diabetes are more likely to develop eye conditions than people who don’t. So it is important to keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes. Your lens swells if your blood sugar stays too high for too long and also the lens changes blood sugar into sorbitol.
When this substance collects in the lens of your eye, you see less clearly, and a cataract may form. Therefore, keeping blood sugar in check will also help prevent cataracts.
There is some evidence that drinking alcohol excessively can increase the risk of cataracts. And if you drink fewer than two standard-size drinks each day, your odds of getting cataracts may be lower than if you never drank at all.
Research also shows that drinking more than two drinks a day which might be about 20 grams of alcohol will raise the possibilities of the condition.
How to treat?
If you have been experiencing symptoms or just wondering what is the first sign of cataracts, there is nothing to worry about if you treat it properly.
The only real option for effective treatment of the cataract is to do surgery. If it is left untreated, cataracts will lead to blindness. It is better if your eye doctor spot problems early on. And if you are between 40 and 64 in age then you should get a complete eye exam every 2 to 4 years. If you’re over age 65, you should get an exam every 1 to 2 years.
If you wonder What is the first sign of cataracts, then the answer is that there are no definite signs to clearly say it. But a few symptoms occur in the early stage that may help you to treat cataracts earlier.
But some people will not know that they have the symptoms of cataracts and this could lead to worsening the situation. So it is important to prevent and go for regular checkups to find out the problems in the eye and treat them at the beginning.
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