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Here’s How To Get Rid Of Cataract Glare

Here’s How To Get Rid Of Cataract Glare

Having a hard time seeing when lights are shined in your eye (such as at nighttime when you are driving around and headlights are spilling into your car)? What you may be having is glare. And while glare can have different causes (such as just having a dirty windshield), one potential and common cause of glare is cataracts.

Glare is caused by extra scattering of light. This can happen from the extra cloudiness in your lens from cataracts. You can attempt to reduce this glare as much as possible with a good glasses prescription but the only definitive way to get rid of this glare is through cataract surgery to remove the cataracts.

Getting rid of that cloudy lens and getting a new clear artificial lens is a sure-fire way to improve your glare symptoms. Let's see why this is the case.

What Exactly Is Glare?

Glare happens when light gets scattered. Light travels through our eye in straight lines. Assuming light is focused properly on your retina, these straight lines of light allow us to see everything sharp and in focus. All the light gets focused at a single point.

But if something breaks up that straight line of travel and light is scattered, you can develop glare.

Glare from starlight

Glare from starlight; image by International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva (Spaceengine), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Glare causes light from that object to be scattered out of focus and onto a different part of the retina. This creates a glow that extends from that object. This can also make your vision more blurry since it can be difficult to see around that glare.

Anything can have glare, but glare is much more noticeable when you are looking at light sources since the light sources have a higher contrast to their surroundings. This is why glare is typically noticed more at nighttime. When driving, headlights can shine into your eye causing things to become blurred. In addition, at nighttime, your pupil expands to allow in more light which can accentuate the glare effect.

Why Do Cataracts Cause Glare?

Before cataracts develop, the natural lens in our eye is clear. This allows light to pass through without scattering. But after a cataract develops, the lens is no longer clear and transparent. There are cloudy barriers for light to pass through. These barriers scatter light and cause glare

Posterior Subcapsular Cataract

Posterior Subcapsular Cataract; image by Imrankabirhossain, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Certain types of cataracts will cause more glare than other types of cataracts. Pictured above is a type of cataract called a posterior subcapsular cataract. As you can see with this cataract, there is a white “sheet” of cloudiness. This will cause a great deal of scattering of light, glare and blurred vision. Another type of cataract called a cortical cataract has white spokes throughout the lens to cause a high amount of glare.

Cortical Cataract

Cortical Cataract; image by Imrankabirhossain, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Can You Reduce Glare?

Much of the glare from cataracts are caused by cloudiness in the lens. But it is possible to minimize the effect of this glare.

The most important thing is to have the prescription of your eye fully optimized with a pair of glasses or contact lenses. If the prescription of the eye isn’t correct, you will have additional glare from any residual prescription error. Because cataracts usually change the prescription of the eye, this can mean getting an updated pair of glasses every year to make sure that your vision is corrected as optimally as it can.

But ultimately, the glare is coming from physical changes in your lens which just aren’t going away. There is a limit to how much you can get rid of this glare on your own. Eventually, cataract surgery will be necessary to eliminate this glare for good.

Cataract Surgery Will Get Rid of Cataract Glare

During cataract surgery, the cataract is completely removed from the eye. A tiny machine and vacuum is used to break up and remove the cataract. This eliminates the glare from cataracts for good!

During cataract surgery, a new artificial lens is placed within the eye. This artificial lens is completely clear to prevent any excess scattering of light.

However, there are a few situations in which you still can have a little bit of glare after cataract surgery.

  • Immediately after the procedure, you can have a little extra swelling within your cornea from the energy used to break up the cataract. This extra swelling creates a little haziness in your cornea and will cause some glare until this swelling resolves.
  • Sometimes, the back of the capsule which holds and supports the new artificial lens can get cloudy. This can cause glare until it is treated with a laser procedure to remove this cloudiness.
  • If you have any residual prescription error or astigmatism after cataract surgery, this will cause some glare until it is corrected with glasses or with a lasik enhancement procedure.
  • Similarly, if you have other conditions on the eye such as dry eye, you may notice extra glare. The fluctuation of vision from dry eye can cause extra scattering of light and cause more glare at night.
  • Certain premium artificial lenses designed to get you out of glasses will split light and cause some night time vision symptoms. These lens can create a halo or ring or glare around lights that you notice more at nighttime.
  • But even perfectly clear artificial lenses used in cataract surgery will still have a small amount of glare that if you look hard enough you can notice. The optical system of the human eye just isn’t perfect.

But for all intensive purposes, the glare you notice from cataracts goes away after cataract surgery. If the glare has gotten to be a bother in your daily life. It’s time to look into getting those cataracts removed.

Summary

Cataracts are a very common cause of glare. The cloudiness in the lens from cataracts scatters light to create issues with glare; especially around lights at nighttime. Until the cataracts are removed, you can obtain an updated and more optimized glasses prescription to get rid of any glare from prescription error. But the only way to definitively get rid of the glare is to have cataract surgery and remove that cloudy lens.

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