September 30

Do Cataracts Affect Color Vision?

Image: Hands of elderly woman
Image of colorful salad in bowl.


What is a Cataract?


A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Cataracts are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of all Americans age 80 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.


Do Cataracts Affect Color Vision?

At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. Symptoms of cataract include blurred or hazy vision, reduced intensity of colors, increased sensitivity to glare, increased difficulty seeing at night, and changes in the eye’s refractive error. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities. Common causes include aging, diabetes mellitus, use of certain drugs, smoking, alcohol consumption, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and nutritional deficiency. With color vision impact, often colors first appear to be faded in hue, and with progression of the condition, lighter colors such an arrangement of pastel colors, may be difficult to discriminate.

How Can I Prevent Cataracts?

There are steps you can take to protect your eyes and delay cataracts:

  • Wear Sunglasses and a Hat with a wide brim to block the sun.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat Healthy Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — especially dark, leafy greens that contain lutein & zeaxanthin such as spinach, kale, and collard greens.
  • Get a Dilated Eye Exam If you’re age 60 or older, get a dilated eye exam at least once every 2 years.

What’s the Treatment for Cataracts?

Surgery is the only way to get rid of a cataract, but you may not need to get surgery right away. Your eye doctor can discuss this with you.

Home Treatment
Early in the cataract progression, you can make small changes to manage your cataracts. Some of the below strategies may help:

  • Use brighter lights at home or work
  • Wear anti-glare sunglasses
  • Use magnifying lenses for reading and other activities
  • New Glasses or Contacts – A new prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses can help you see better with cataracts early on.
  • Surgery – Your doctor might suggest surgery if your cataracts start getting in the way of everyday activities like reading, driving, or watching TV. During cataract surgery, the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens (also called an intraocular lens, or IOL). This surgery is very safe, and 9 out of 10 people who get it can see better afterwards.

Learn More About Cataract Surgery

Talk about your options with your doctor. Most people don’t need to rush into surgery. Waiting to have surgery usually won’t harm your eyes or make surgery more difficult later. Remember these tips:

  • Tell your doctor if cataracts are getting in the way of your everyday activities
  • See your doctor for regular check-ups
  • Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of cataract surgery
  • Encourage family members to get checked for cataracts, since they can run in families
 

References:

Ao M, Li X, Qiu W, Hou Z, Su J, Wang W. The impact of age-related cataracts on colour perception, postoperative recovery and related spectra derived from test of hue perception BMC Ophthalmol. 2019; 19(1): 56.

Klein BE, Klein R, Sponsel WE, et al. Prevalence of Glaucoma. The Beaver Dam Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 1992;99(10):1499–1504.

Lee PP, Feldman ZW, Ostermann J, Brown DS, Sloan FA. Longitudinal prevalence of major eye diseases. Arch Ophthalmol. 2003;121:1303–1310.

Urmi Mehta, Anna Diep, Kevin Nguyen, Bryan Le, Clara Yuh, Caroline Frambach, John Doan, Ang Wei, Anton M. Palma, Marjan Farid, Sumit Garg, Sanjay Kedhar, Matthew Wade, Kailey A. Marshall, Kimberly A. Jameson, M. Cristina Kenney, Andrew W. Browne. Quantifying Color Vision Changes Associated With Cataracts Using Cone Contrast Thresholds

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020 Nov; 9(12): 11.  Published online 2020 Nov 3. doi: 10.1167/tvst.9.12.11

Mayo Clinic Diseases & Conditions Education

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790, Accessed 9/29/2021

American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Health A to Z

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts, Accessed 9/29/2021


National Institute on Health

https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts


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