Cataracts

Cataracts, you may understand this to be a clouding of the eye that impairs or destroys vision. You may have heard about the surgeries that correct the condition. But did you know that not all cataracts are the same?
There are actually three primary types of cataract related to age: Nuclear Sclerotic, Cortical, and Posterior Subcapsular; the most common of these three is Nuclear Sclerotic cataracts.


CataractA Nuclear Sclerotic cataract refers to the hardening of the nucleus, or the center, of the lens of the eye. In the early stages of this condition, the lens becomes cloudy and yellow before eventually hardening (sclerosis is the medical term for hardening). The hardening of the lens causes the eye to lose the ability to focus and the yellowing and clouding of the lens causes reduction or cessation of light entering the eye and so eventually leads to blindness.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts are most typically age related and the symptoms may take years before they actually affect sight. Treatment for this condition would be to remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial lens. Modern artificial lenses may even be bifocal type lenses.
Nuclear cataractA cortical cataract is a condition in which areas of white cloudiness will develop in the outer edges of the lens called the cortex spreading inward and having the appearance of a spoke wheel or a star pattern.
This condition scatters the light entering the eye and causing blurred vision, and glare, as well as difficulties in judging contrast and depth perception. Again, this condition may be corrected with surgery to replace the affected lens with an artificial lens. Persons with diabetes are most likely to be affected by this type of cataract.
Persons developing a Posterior Subcapsular cataract may begin to notice a glare or halo effect around lights and may also notice they are having difficulty reading. Persons taking steroids, or that have diabetes, or persons who suffer from extreme nearsightedness and/or retinitis pigmentosa, may develop this type of cataract.
Cortical cataractPosterior subcapsular cataracts begin as a small, cloudy or opaque area on the back, or posterior, of the lens. It is called subcapsular because it actually develops on the underside, or beneath the lens capsule. The lens capsule is a sac-like membrane that encapsulates the lens and holds it in place. If this condition begins to develop it usually develops very rapidly and symptoms may be noticed with just a few months of it first beginning.

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If you feel that you are developing any of these symptoms you may be well advised to visit your optometrist, and if you don”t have one get one. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred or doubled vision
  • Colors appear faded
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Glare or light sensitivity
  • Poor night vision

Subcapsular cataractOnly a qualified optometrist can determine if you are developing a cataract or if it is another, less severe issue affecting your eyesight. Avoiding certain things will reduce your risk of developing a cataract. Things such as:

  • Eye injuries or head trauma
  • Smoking
  • Corticosteroids, major tranquilizers and diuretics
  • Alcohol abuse

Also doing certain things may help reduce your risks of developing a cataract, things such as wearing quality sunglasses when outside, whether the sun is bright or not you are still expose to UV radiation.Eating healthy is very important, it is suggested that vitamin C and A are beneficial to the eyes
Treatments for cataracts may be as simple as a stronger eyeglass prescription or eye drops, to the more complex solution of surgery. Surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis and often persons are home the same day. Your optometrist will determine what treatment is right for you.

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3 thoughts on “Types Of Cataracts

  1. Dave

    I’m looking for an understanding of my cataracts. I fully understand this question may be a problem because you are not able to actually examine my eyes, but I want to focus my question on understanding a prognosis.

    After my annual physical my PCP told me I have cataracts. She told me it was normal as people age, I am a 59 yr.-old male. I learned of a Multi-Focal Lens study being conducted in the area and volunteered. I was told yesterday that my eyes are too long and out of the pre-set parameters for the study.

    Also, I learned I have two types of cataracts in both eyes…Anterior and Posterior (cortical and posterior subcapsular). She told me these were the two fastest growing types of cataracts so I asked, “On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being the least, what are my expectations?” The doctor’s office rated my cataracts as, Anterior rated as 2+ in my right eye and 1+- 2 in my left, and Posterior rated at 1+ in both eyes. Due to the rate these types grow I will notice a significant difference by the end of May – four months from now.

    What does this mean?

  2. pauline ann carlson

    I had three types of cataracts in both eyes. Is this common? Also I was exposed daily to gamma radiation, is there a link between this and the cataracts? Thank you Pauline Carlson

  3. Tan Nguyen

    My sister has a kind of cataract that doctors can’t remove by surgery! It’s not the usual lens problems, it’s some meaty growth in the lens (?) I wonder what it is. Can anyone explain to me more about that.
    If no surgery is possible, what else can help?

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