If your vision has become cloudy or things you see are not as bright as they used to be, a cataract may have developed in one or both of your eyes. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. Your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed.
The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that a cataract is present.
There are many misconceptions about cataract. A cataract is not:
Cataracts are a common cause of vision loss, especially as we age, but they are treatable. Your ophthalmologist can tell you whether cataract or some other problem is the cause of your vision loss and can help you decide if cataract surgery is appropriate for you.
The only way to know if you have cataracts for certain is when your ophthalmologist does a dilated eye exam. Get a baseline exam at age 40, when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often you should return for follow-up exams. At any point, if you have symptoms or risks for eye disease, see your ophthalmologist. Because your risk for cataracts and other eye diseases increases as you get older, starting at age 65 you should see your ophthalmologist every year. A complete eye examination will rule out any other condition that may be causing blurred vision or eye problems.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. As a result, you may not immediately notice changes in your vision when cataracts first develop.
In time, you may have symptoms such as:
Last reviewed and updated in March 2010,
by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.