Cataracts: Signs and Symptoms - Monterey Bay Eye Center, Monterey, CA

Cataracts: Signs and Symptoms

Date posted: May 3, 2015   |   Tagged with:

Cataracts: Signs and SymptomsWhen eye’s lens, located behind the pupil and iris, has clouding, it is referred to as a cataract. In individuals over the age of 40, cataracts are the most prevalent cause of vision loss. It is also the main cause of blindness internationally. Studies have shown that, globally, there are higher cataracts cases than those of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration combined. Over 22 million Americans that are 40+ years old are currently affected by cataracts. According to PBA (Prevent Blindness America), this population will rise to 30 million by 2020.

The types of cataracts include:

  • Cortical cataract – it is characterized by wedge-like, white opacities that begin in the lens’ periphery and move slowly towards the center using a spoke-like fashion. It is known to occur in the part of the lens surrounding the central nucleus (the cortex of the lens)
  • Nuclear cataract – occurs deep in the lens’ central zone (the nucleus). Such cataracts are normally caused by aging.
  • Subcapsular cataract – forms at the back of the lens. Individual who take steroid medications in high doses or those with diabetes have a bigger risk of developing his type of cataract

Symptoms and signs

A cataract will begin small and will have minimal effect on your vision during the early formation stages. In this stage, you may experience a little blurring in your vision. It is similar to looking at an impressionist painting or viewing things through a piece of glass that is cloudy. Therefore, blurred or hazy vision may mean you have a cataract.

Light from a lamp or the sun may seem to be too glaring or too bright due to a cataract. Alternatively, you may notice lights from an oncoming car at night may cause blind you more than before. Colors that were once bright may appear to lose their brightness. The type of cataract will affect how soon the symptoms will occur and the ones you experience. ‘Second sight’, a temporary improvement of your near vision, can be brought about when a nuclear cataract is in its first stages of development. Unfortunately, ‘second sight’ will disappear the moment the cataract worsens. On the same note, a subcapsular cataract will produce symptoms only when it is well-developed.


Prevention of cataracts has brought about a controversy on whether or not it is possible. Some studies show that certain nutritional supplements and nutrients can substantially decrease your risk of cataracts. In a 10-year large study of female health professionals, it was discovered that high intake of zeaxanthin, carotenoids lutein and vitamin E from supplements and food were associated with substantial reduced risks of cataract. Reliable sources of vitamin E are spinach, almonds and sunflower seeds.
Other studies have shown vitamin C and other antioxidant vitamins as well as foods that have and omega-3 fatty acids have real possibility of reducing cataract risk. Wearing protective glasses, especially those that completely block the sun’s UV rays, is another step you can take to decrease your risk of cataracts.


Treatment of cataracts will vary depending on the types of cataract you are experiencing and your overall body health. When the symptoms begin to show, there are several methods you can use to temporarily improve your vision. For starters, you can try using appropriate lighting aids, magnification aids, strong bifocals, new glasses or other visual aids. Consider surgery if your cataracts have developed to the point they can affect your daily life or seriously impair your vision. Majority of people believe poor vision to be a fact of aging that is inevitable. However, cataract surgery is a relatively painless and simple procedure that can be used to regain vision. Consulting with a leading resource for eye examinations and eye treatments such as Monterey Bay Eye Center is the best option for treatment.

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