The human eye is the organ which gives us the sense of sight allowing us to observe and learn more about the surrounding world. We use sight for learning more than any other sense. We use our eyes in almost every activity we perform whether reading, working, watching television, writing a letter, driving a car, and in countless other ways. The eye works like a camera and has a lens referred to as the crystalline lens. The lens focuses light on the retina, protects the retina from the ultra-violet rays of the sun, and also changes shape allowing the eye to focus at various distances. Clarity of the crystalline lens changes over time eventually causing blurry vision or, what we refer to as a cataract. Cataracts usually develop very gradually with advancing age. They develop slowly and painlessly until the ability to perform routine daily activities becomes difficult.
During early stages, cataracts have little effect on vision. As they progress, symptoms may include cloudy or dimmed vision, sometimes double vision or in many cases both. Images may take on a yellowish tint and reading may become difficult over time because of a reduced contrast between letters and their background. Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions are common. Sensitivity to bright lights can make it difficult or impossible to drive at night because of glare from headlights of oncoming cars or during the day from the bright sun. The distance at which you can read road signs becomes shorter and shorter. Being able to read the captions or scores at the bottom of the TV becomes hard as well. Fishing and other water sports can become more difficult due to glare off the water.
Decreased color perception is also a significant symptom of cataracts. Cataracts have been suggested to cause a form of temporary color blindness. This is because cataracts filter out low wavelength colors like blues and greens. Actually, any color towards the low end of the visible spectrum can be affected. Many patients have cataract surgery and go home surprised that their wallpaper or carpet color has changed! Distinguishing between black, blue and navy is next to impossible.
Patients who have cataract surgery often mention how blue is so brilliant after surgery. A common problem noticed by many children of aging parents or grandparents is that elderly women color their hair and end up with blue hair. This is because as they age they want to remove the “yellowing” of their hair. Unfortunately, part of what they see as yellow hair is caused by the cataract. That is, their hair is really not that yellow. Women that color their hair at home over use the blue rinse that removes the yellow, resulting in blue hair that looks white to them.
Golfers also have problems. Those who use yellow or orange balls cannot track their ball. Similar problems while playing tennis with yellow balls can be experienced. If you like to fish, it can be difficult to pick specific fly or spinner bait by color. White becomes the color of default and even it becomes dingy or tinged with yellow.
Only when a cataract interferes with normal activities is it time to consider surgery. People who depend on their eyes for work, play and other activities may want their cataracts removed earlier than those whose needs are less demanding. The decision to perform surgery should be based on the patient’s own assessment of functional impairment combined with results of the eye examination and measurement of visual acuity. Glare from cataracts may also be a factor and can clinically be measured. Glare testing results may be utilized as one of the determining factors as whether to have cataract surgery or not.
If you have questions about cataracts or are interested in having your eyes examined, please contact our offices in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 or Pawnee at 918-762-2573. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!