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Self-Test for Cataracts at Home (& When to See a Doctor)

You can self-test for cataracts at home, but you’ll need to see an eye doctor to confirm your at-home diagnosis.

If you’re wondering if you have cataracts, you have likely experienced changes and symptoms that affect your vision. Cataracts are among the most common causes of vision loss in the world, and the only treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery. Early detection is key in order to obtain proper medical treatment. 

Once diagnosed, you can take measures to reduce vision loss associated with aging, UV ray exposure, and other factors which have been shown to contribute to the development of cataracts.

Self-Testing for Cataracts at Home

If you’re going to perform a self-test at home to determine if you may have cataracts, consider your recent history. If you’ve had trouble driving at night or notice that colors do not shine quite as bright, this may be due to the development of cataracts.

Self-testing entails answering additional questions like whether or not you’ve had vision problems in recent memory.

Some eye clinics provide quizzes where patients can potentially determine if they have cataracts at home in around 10 minutes or less. Early detection of any sort of eye problem is key to getting treatment, correcting vision, and avoiding additional damage or permanent vision loss.

Questions for a Cataract Self-Test

At-home cataract tests generally include variations of these questions:

  • Have you noticed any vision changes?
  • Do you have any history of cataracts?
  • Have you ever had vision surgery, such as LASIK or PRK?
  • Do you currently wear corrective lenses, such as glasses or contacts?
  • Do you notice glares or halos around lights at night?
  • Do you have trouble seeing objects in the distance?
  • Do you have blurry or limited vision?
  • Are you noticing increased sensitivity to light?
  • Do you sometimes have double vision?
  • Do you need brighter lighting in order to read small print?
  • Are you older than 55?

If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, you potentially could have a cataract. While an at-home self-test can give you an idea of whether you are likely to have a cataract or not, a professional eye doctor will need to make the diagnosis. 

Cataract Symptoms

Cataracts can develop due to lifestyle habits. They can result from certain medical conditions, or they can be age-related. Most commonly, they are related to the natural aging process.

In most cases, cataracts cannot be seen with your own eyes and cannot be felt either. However, there are certain signs that an individual has cataracts, which include the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Lights and colors appearing dim
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Increased difficulty reading
  • Colors appearing faded or yellowed
  • Light and glare sensitivity
  • Seeing halos around lights

What to Do After a Positive Self-Test

If you’ve performed a test on yourself for cataracts at home and believe you have a cataract, it’s important to see an eye care specialist as soon as possible. 

Cataracts can progress gradually, and they get worse over time. Cataracts may develop more quickly in some individuals compared to others. 

Cataracts that occur due to diabetes and cataracts that occur in younger patients often progress faster than others. Certain lifestyle habits like prolonged UV exposure, smoking, and drinking alcohol can accelerate cataract development. 

If you are a candidate for cataract surgery, your doctor will go over this process and explore your options for correcting your vision. Cataract surgery is a routine surgery and can be performed in around 30 minutes under local anesthesia.

When to See an Eye Care Specialist

In order to stay on top of your vision and know where you stand, it’s important to get an eye exam once a year. As our vision deteriorates over time, we may not realize there is a problem until it becomes significant.

If you believe you have a cataract, an eye doctor will perform a variety of tests in a medical facility using special tools that facilitate the process. Once a diagnosis is determined, the eye doctor will go over your options, which include observation or surgery.

If your cataract is in its early stages, your doctor may recommend that you simply monitor it via regular eye exams. They may prescribe you glasses to improve vision issues that were initiated or worsened due to the cataract. 

Eventually, they may recommend surgery to remove the cataract and replace the natural lens of the eye with an intraocular lens (IOL).

Why Getting Tested Is Crucial

Getting tested by an experienced medical professional/eye specialist is very important when it comes to any sort of eye problem, as they can often be degenerative, getting worse over time. Cataracts in particular get worse over time, generally necessitating cataract surgery over time.

At-home testing is available for cataract detection, but it is not a suitable replacement for a specialist’s opinion, preferably an eye care specialist who knows your personal medical history. This is why establishing a rapport with your eye doctor is important. They will be able to diagnose vision problems early and give you the treatment and solutions you need to see clearly again.

References

  1. A Systematic Review of the Effects of Second-Eye Cataract Surgery on Motor Function. (June 2022). Frontiers in Aging.

  2. Metabolic and Lifestyle Factors in Relation to Senile Cataract: A Mendelian Randomization Study. (January 2022). Scientific Reports.

  3. Cataract Disease Detection by Using Transfer Learning-Based Intelligent Methods. (December 2021). Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine.

  4. Routine Preoperative Medical Testing for Cataract Surgery. (January 2019). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Last Updated December 20, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.