You’re deciding which clothes to wear, but wonder why their bright colors suddenly seem subdued. Or perhaps they look faded with your right eye but not your left eye.
Not seeing colors the way you used to is often a symptom of optical problems, especially as we age. Let’s take a look at some of these diseases and explore ways a low vision eye doctor can help you improve or at least maximize your vision.
Cataracts occur when protein deposits accumulate on the eye’s crystalline lens and turn it opaque. Once-clear vision becomes cloudy and colors begin to fade.
The good news is that cataract surgery is a very safe procedure that replaces your cloudy lens with a new, clear lens. If you’ve had cataract surgery to restore clear vision, you’ll notice right away that colors appear much brighter than before. A few years after cataract surgery, some patients notice that colors may start to appear subdued. This is normal and can be treated very quickly using a laser procedure.
Glaucoma results from high pressure build-up inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve, reduces vision and can lead to blindness. Color-vision deficiency — the inability to tell certain colors apart — can be one of the signs that glaucoma is starting to affect the eyes.
The difficulty in distinguishing between blue and yellow colours is often associated with early glaucoma, whereas red-green deficiencies are generally associated with advanced glaucoma. However, there are times when it is difficult to measure or quantify acquired color vision deficiency, and color tests performed with standardized color test charts frequently characterize it as combined or nonspecific color vision deficiency.
Macular degeneration primarily affects older people by causing a deterioration of the macula, the center of the retina. This leads to blurriness and significant vision loss. Experiencing difficulty distinguishing between similar colors and hues is an early sign of the condition.
Optic neuritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the myelin coating on nerve fibers, causing blurriness and partial vision loss in one or both eyes. Colors, especially shades of red, become subdued, and it becomes harder to distinguish against a similarly colored background. Fortunately, the condition is usually temporary.
Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes when high blood-sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. This causes these tiny blood vessels to swell, leak fluid, or close, and can even cause abnormal new blood vessels to grow. These new vessels are very fragile and prone to being damaged. Symptoms often include fading colors, blurriness, vision loss, and more.
What to Do When Color-Related Difficulties and Other Visual Symptoms Arise
If you notice that your color vision is reduced, you may be in the early stages of a range of eye diseases. It is important for any eye condition to be diagnosed and treated early on so it can be effectively treated.
If these eye diseases are not managed early, the color-related problems you’re experiencing could worsen, eventually affecting your vision permanently, resulting in what is known as low vision. Low vision indicates that your vision has deteriorated to a point which makes your everyday tasks challenging and can negatively impact your quality of life.
If you notice that colors are diminished or you are experiencing other worrying symptoms affecting your vision, immediately consult Dr. Colleen Mulhall. We will examine you by:
- Dilating your pupils
- Evaluating your visual acuity
- Providing a visual field examination
- Providing a colour vision assessment
- Conducting eye pressure tests
The sooner we identify the underlying cause behind your reduced color vision, the sooner you will be able to start treatment to improve or maximize your vision.
The Low Vision Center at Family Optical helps patients in Winnipeg, Grande Pointe, Lorette, Oak Bluff , and throughout Manitoba.