Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eyes that, whilst painless, blocks passage of light into the retina making it more difficult to see. Cataracts are often caused by ageing and exposure to sunlight. However, other known causes are also injuries, disease, medication, and health problems such as diabetes.
Cataracts can be identified with symptoms that include cloudy or blurry vision, colours seemingly faded, too much sensitivity to sources of light and the appearance of halos around lights, poor night vision, multiple images in one eye, and frequent prescription changes on modals (glasses and contact lenses).
These symptoms are also associated with other eye diseases so it is important to see an eye doctor to check if it is a cataract or not. Which is why it is important to get a physical exam to diagnose cataracts, how bad they are, and what needs to be done to correct your vision.
Personal habits like smoking and drinking can also cause cataracts. So when you get an exam, expect these questions from your doctor and be honest about them and the rest of your medical history. Aside from that, your doctor may perform a few tests to see the extent of damage as well as the treatments you need to get to clear up your vision.
Visual Acuity Test – This is the eye chart exam where you are asked to cover one eye and then identify letters on a chart to determine how far and how big or small you can read.
Slit-lamp examination – This exam uses a special type of microscope that uses an intense line of light or slit that illuminates your cornea, iris, lens, and the space between your iris and cornea to detect tiny abnormalities within them which may be causing irregularities in your vision.
Retinal exam – A type of eye drops are applied to your eyes to dilate them which makes it easier to look at the back of your eyes where the retina lies. Your ophthalmologist then uses a slit eye lamp or an ophthalmoscope to check for signs of cataracts.
Cataracts may have physical symptoms that make it easy to assume that they are the problem. However, the eye is a complex sense made up of nerves which need to be checked before the appropriate treatment is diagnosed. In most cases, cataracts do not have major effects but when left untreated, they may escalate to loss of ability to perform daily activities even with the aid of spectacles and surgery is then needed to remove them.