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Understanding the Process of Cataract Diagnosis

Cataracts are a common eye condition where the lens in one or both eyes becomes clouded. When left untreated, cataracts will result in vision loss and can eventually lead to blindness. This condition is most commonly related to aging but can also be the result of an injury to the eye or sun exposure. The good news is that cataracts are treatable and most patients who have received cataract surgery have had their vision restored. Regular eye exams can help diagnose cataracts so you and your doctor can decide whether or not surgery is necessary. Let's talk more about the process of cataract diagnosis.


What Are Cataracts?

As we've mentioned, cataracts occur when the clear lens inside the eye becomes clouded. This cloudiness happens when some of the proteins that make up the lens of the eye begin to change their structure, usually due to aging or injury. The lens allows light to enter the eye and project images to the retina. Over time, this clouding will affect your ability to see. 


What Are Some Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts tend to grow slowly and symptoms of cataracts often develop gradually. They can include:

-cloudy or blurry vision

-seeing colours as faded

-double or multiple vision

-poor night vision

-sensitivity to light

-frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions


The symptoms of cataracts often overlap with symptoms from other eye conditions. Scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams with your optometrist is the best way to make a proper diagnosis.  


How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?

To determine if you have a cataract, your eye doctor will give you a full examination, which might include:


An Overview of Your Complete Medical and Vision History

Your eye doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms. These may include:

-Are you taking any medications?

-Do you have an immediate family member with any eye diseases?

-Do you have diabetes or high blood pressure?

-Have you had an injury to your eye or ever had eye surgery?

-Does your vision make it difficult to read or drive?

-Do you experience vision problems in bright light or low light?

These are just a few examples of questions you should be prepared to answer at your eye exam to help your optometrist get a better understanding of your condition.


Diagnostic Tests

In addition to your medical history, you will be given a few diagnostic tests to help diagnose cataracts. These may include:


Slit Lamp Exam 

Using a specialized lamp with an intense slit of light, this test provides your doctor with a magnified view of your lens, iris, cornea, and other structures at the front of your eye. This helps your eye doctor detect small irregularities in the eye structures.


Visual Acuity Test 

This test uses the common eye chart with letters in varying sizes. From a distance, you'll be asked to read the series of letters off of the chart while covering one eye at a time. This helps determine if you have trouble seeing in one or both eyes.


Retinal Exam 

Using eye drops, your eye doctor will dilate your pupils in order to get a better view of the retina at the back of the eye. This helps your optometrist inspect the retina for signs of cataracts.  


If your eye doctor diagnoses you with cataracts, you can move ahead to discuss your treatment options. The best way to diagnose cataracts is through a comprehensive eye exam with an experienced optometrist. To book your appointment, contact us at Prairie Eye Care.  


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