Cataract Symptoms

The following patient observations may point to the presence of cataracts.

When driving

In most patients the earliest symptom of cataract is glare. This occurs, most commonly, at night and results in street lights or the headlights of oncoming cars having a starburst effect or halo around them. The problem is more common with later model cars with halogen headlights. This glare interferes with the ability to read street signs clearly, a shortcoming that is often more noticeable in wet conditions. In more advanced cataracts, driving vision can be affected during daylight hours.
VicRoads, Victoria’s road-traffic authority sets specific minimum vision standards. For most patients, however, symptoms from their cataract are disabling enough to warrant surgery well before vision falls below these standards.

When reading

The ability to read clearly, with reading glasses if required, reduces as a cataract progresses. This will limit the length of time a patient is able to read comfortably.

When watching television

Patients will notice reduced clarity when watching television, the first symptom being an inability to read subtitles.

Dissatisfaction with glasses

Some patients with cataract will have seen their optometrist on multiple occasions to have their spectacle lenses updated, each time being subjectively dissatisfied with the new glasses.  
An early cataract may not cause symptoms. In fact, it is occasionally an asymptomatic finding in younger patients. In most cases, however, the cataract gets larger and symptoms ensue. The rate at which the cataract develops varies from patient to patient. Typically the symptoms will develop over a period of months to years. It is rare for the symptoms to develop quickly.