Cataracts

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cataracts Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideCataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests and Surgery

Cataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests and Surgery

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

You may not notice any symptoms with early cataracts. As a cataract becomes more advanced, decrease in clarity of vision, not fully correctable with glasses, is noticed. There is a loss of contrast sensitivity, so that shadows and color vision are less vivid. Disturbing glare may be noted as light is into the eye scattered by the cataract. Haloes may be observed around lights. Night vision will be diminished. In certain types of cataracts, double vision may be noted in the affected eye. Some patients note that they require frequent changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions and may be aware that their near vision is improving as their distance vision declines.

A cataract does not routinely cause discomfort or pain in the eye or alter the external appearance of the eye

What are the signs of cataracts?

Family members of a person affected by cataracts in both eyes may notice that he or she appears not to be seeing as well as previously. The eye will appear normal to the untrained observer, unless the cataract is mature and white. In that situation, the pupil of the eye, which normally appears black, will look grey or white to the observer.

The examining physician will find diminished visual acuity in the affected eye or eyes. This visual loss is not fully corrected by a change in the glasses. The lens of the eye can be easily examined by an ophthalmologist and the changes in the lens characteristic of cataract can actually be seen using a slit lamp, which is an illuminating and magnifying device used to painlessly examine the structures within the front of the eye, including the lens.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2016

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