Cataract Causes and Symptoms

Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist, discusses the causes and symptoms of cataracts.

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Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist, discusses the causes and symptoms of cataracts.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist video title: Cataract Causes and Symptoms Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

So a cataract is an opacification of the lens that occurs over time as people age and just like a camera has a lens in it, the eye requires a lens in it to focus images on the back of the eye.

As we are young we have a nice clear lens in the eye, and then as we age it tends to get a little bit green or brown over time, and we call that development of a cataract.

Now most of the time this is a slow process, but occasionally it can happen more rapidly, and that can be if somebody’s had trauma in the eye, if they’ve inflammation inside of the eye, if they’ve had surgery in the eye, or sometimes if they have certain medical conditions they are required to take medication for a certain amount of time.

Although those scenarios are less common the vast majority of time as cataracts come on very gradually over months or even years. And patients might not perceive anything for a long time.

Usually they complain of decreased vision gradually just like I’ve explained. Sometimes they notice difficulty in different lighting situations particularly when it’s dark. They might have problems with glare or issues with driving, and those things will prompt them to see an eye care professional or their GP and get them sent in to see an ophthalmologist who can take a look at them.

When an eye care professional knows that you have cataracts or suspects you do or perhaps your GP suspect you do, they send you to an ophthalmologist. And there you have a full eye examination including dilation of the eyes where the doctor can ensure that the amount of cataract you have corresponds with your complaints, with the decreased level of vision that you have.

And then they might order some tests in the office to make sure you don’t have any other eye diseases present, and if that’s the case, they’ll go ahead and organize cataract surgery for you, which is how we treat this particular problem.

If you have been having decreased vision, or you’ve noticed some changes in your vision, and you suspect you might have cataracts, or were told that you had early cataracts developing, it’s reasonable to go see your GP or optometrist and get a referral to an ophthalmologist for a full eye assessment.

Presenter: Dr. Steven Schendel, Ophthalmologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

97-100 People got two or more of these video questions wrong... ( 9 participated.)

Quiz: Do You Understand Cataracts?


Cataracts always develop in both eyes at once.


Cataracts can affect both eyes or just one, and some patients experience mild symptoms, while others can barely see any shapes or movements.


Decreased night vision can be a symptom of cataracts.


Cataract symptoms include blurry vision, haloes, sensitivity to bright lights, decreased night vision, frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions, and faded colours.


Cataracts don't develop as a result of diseases such as diabetes.


Cataracts can be caused by trauma, diseases such as diabetes or medications such as steroids.


An outpatient surgical procedure is the treatment for cataracts.


If you’re diagnosed with a cataract, your ophthalmologist will recommend an outpatient surgical procedure.


There are two types of intraocular lenses.


There are two types of IOLs: monovision (fixed-focus for a preset distance) or multifocal (focused vision at various distances).

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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