What Is It Like to Have Cataracts?

Every winter millions of Canadians wake up after a snowfall and have to clear snow and ice from the windshields of their cars. Then they turn on their heaters and start defrosting to get rid of fog. But what if you couldn’t get rid of the haze before you? Looking through a fogged up windshield is a good analogy for what people with cataracts experience.

Cataracts are caused by chemical changes that occur within the lens of the eye. Our eyes’ lenses are made up of water and proteins that are arranged in a way that keeps the lens clear and allows light to pass through. However, the proteins can begin to clump together causing the lens to become cloudy. This often occurs with aging, although younger people can experience cataracts as well. Since the lens helps to focus light on the retina to form images, this cloudiness affects our vision.

At first the clouding may have little effect on your vision depending on its location on the lens. Over time the cataract may grow larger, clouding more of the lens and making it harder to see.

Cataracts develop gradually and painlessly. Some of the signs that you may have cataracts are:

  • Clouded/blurred vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • An increased need for brighter light for reading
  • Seeing colours that seem faded
  • Trouble distinguishing dark colours such as blues and purples
  • Double vision
  • Frequent prescription changes

As a cataract develops, you may become sensitive to bright lights or experience glares and halos around lights.

If cataracts are interfering with everyday activities such as driving, reading or watching TV, don’t delay. Cataract surgery is one of the most successful procedures in existence. With treatment, the “fogged up windshield” of your vision will clear – and you can get on with living life to the fullest again.

Useful Products for Better Living:

CNIB has many products that can help if you are living with cataracts, from TV magnifier screens to kitchen gadgets like liquid level indicators. Shop now in CNIB’s web store.