A cataract occurs when the lens of your eye that changes shape to focus an image on the retina becomes clouded. Cataracts change your vision gradually over time, and when patients first notice a chance, it is common to misunderstand the cause. Difficultly driving at night or reading in dim light are important symptoms of cataracts that should be checked by a doctor.
Let’s talk a little bit about cataract and what a cataract is? A lot of misconceptions about cataracts, people think cataracts are growth or a tumor inside their eye, when it is really not. A cataract is part of your normal anatomy. It is just a part of your anatomy that has changed its clarity. If you think of the eye as a camera, the eye is really a physiologic camera. Inside the eye, there is a lens that functions just like the lens of a camera and that lens changes shape when you are focusing just like an auto-focus video camera and that is what focuses is like on the retina. So if the eye is the camera, the cornea and the lens would be the lens of the camera and then the retina would be the film of the camera if you will. When we get to be 60+ almost all of us will get a little bit of a cataract and what that means is that the lens that is supposed to be clear starts to become cloudy and hazy and when that happens your vision gets blurry, you see halos around lights at night, you have trouble reading, getting glare sunlight and various symptoms from cataract involve in your eye. Patients who have cataract complain of various symptoms from their cataract and lot of times they do not even really understand what is causing their vision to be blurry because it is a kind of a slow progressive, you know cataracts come on slowly. It is not something that changes your vision overnight. It is something that happens very slowly, but things that people tell us is that first of all may be their glasses are changing a lot; in the last couple of years every six months they have had to change their glasses. There are glasses doctors having hard time getting them to see 20-20. So they are having poor vision during their eye test. The patients complain of difficulty reading especially in dim light. Dim light reading is somewhat difficult and then driving is a very common thing that is brought up. They will say that “Oh! I cannot drive at night anymore. Headlights just drive me crazy. I see glare and starburst coming off the headlights. When I look at the lights or streetlights I see halos around the light.” Those are very common symptoms that people report from cataract. So as these symptoms start to happen, what is happening inside your eyes is that lens of your eye is becoming cloudy and there are various types of cataract, which is really beyond the scope of this discussion, but the cataract will call us light not to be focused well inside your eye and that is when you start having these symptoms that we have discussed.