Contrast, Color and Cataracts

Young Male Optometrist Holding An OphthalmoscopeHave you ever taken a photograph on a humid morning at the beach and the image turns out blurry, faded and washed out? This is because the camera lens is fogged and there is inadequate light passing through the lens. When you have cataracts, it is much the same. In a clear lens, light can pass through easily and you will see clear, colorful and defined images. In the case of cataracts, your lens is clouded and light cannot pass through the lens. Images will be fuzzy, yellowed and less vivid.

Cataracts begin gradually and can form at almost any stage of life. Most cataracts develop as we age. Proteins build up on the lens and prevent adequate light from passing through, thus blurring and clouding vision. New lens cells form on the outside of the lens, so the older, damaged cells are pushed toward the middle of the lens and results in a cataract. Cataracts can also begin in infancy or can develop during childhood. They also can arise from traumatic injury to the eye, diabetes, radiation, UV rays or exposure to toxic substances.

No matter how the cataract formed, the results are similar. Images appear blurred or hazy and may even seem to have a halo around them. Colors will be less vivid because the cataract acts as a filter. Bright blues, intense reds and various hues of green will lose their differentiation. Just as when you squint you see less color, cataracts allow less light into the eye so that you cannot see the spectrum of the rainbow.

If you notice that you are not able to differentiate color or value or that images look more yellow than before, talk to a physician about cataracts.  Removal of cataracts is a routine, outpatient procedure that is minimally invasive. An intraocular lens replaces the worn out, clouded lens and results are usually immediate.