The 3 Different Types of Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that can lead to vision loss. Cataracts form due to protein buildup in the body. They are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of Americans age 80 or older have cataracts or have had surgery to remove cataracts.

Even though cataracts are common, they still need to be addressed. Without treatment, cataracts can become worse and interfere with healthy vision, impacting your driving and overall quality of life.

Below are the three different types of cataracts and important things to know about each one.

1. Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts

A nuclear cataract is the most common type of cataract. It starts with gradual yellowing and clouding of the central part of the eye, also known as the nucleus. In time, this turns into hardening and spreads to other parts of the lens.

It’s important to know that this type of cataract can lead to something called “second sight.” Second sight refers to a temporary improvement in close-up vision. This vision is only short term, though, and will eventually be impared due to the cataracts.

2. Cortical Cataracts

Cortical cataracts happen when areas of white cloudiness develop on the outermost layer of the eye. As it progresses, it spreads inward and has the appearance of a spoke wheel. The symptoms of a cortical cataract include blurry vision, trouble with glare and changes in both contrast and depth perception.

While cortical cataracts can happen to anyone, they are more common in people with diabetes.

3. Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

People who have diabetes or extreme nearsightedness are at a higher risk for developing posterior subcapsular cataracts. These cataracts start as small, opaque areas that usually form near the back of the lens.

If you have a posterior subcapsular cataract, you’ll probably have trouble with your reading vision or in well-lit conditions because the cataract causes halos and glare. It’s also important to know that these cataracts progress faster than others, so you’ll need to address them sooner than later.

How are Cataracts Treated?

To determine whether you have a cataract and which type of cataract it is, your eye doctor will do a series of tests. Treatment options usually include a stronger prescription. But once this doesn’t work, your eye specialist will likely recommend surgery.

But don’t worry – cataract surgery is quick, safe and easy! It involves replacing the cloudy lens with a clear, artificial lens. Most people do very well with this procedure and are able to go home on the same day.

Protect Yourself from Cataracts: Schedule an Appointment with Your Eye Doctor

Most cataracts are age-related and occur from normal changes in the eye. However, you’ll still want to treat them early so that you can be safe and preserve your vision. When a stronger prescription, bifocals or vision aids no longer work, be sure to ask your ophthalmologist about cataract surgery.