There are several types of cataracts and they are defined by the location and/or their origin.
To help alleviate some of the mystery that surrounds the various types of cataracts, we have created this list to clarify their location and origin. By doing so – our hopes is to help those who seek Dedham Ophthalmic Consultants for help with their cataracts will have a better understanding of cataracts.
- A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging..
- A cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like shape that starts in the periphery (outer edges) of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion.
- A posterior subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
- A secondary cataract is caused by disease or medication. Diseases that are linked can include glaucoma or diabetes. The use of steroid prednisone or other medications can sometimes increase the likelihood of cataracts.
- Traumatic cataracts can develop after an injury to the eye. It can take several years for this to happen.
- Congenital cataracts, are present at birth or form during a baby’s first year and are less common than age-related cataracts.
- A radiation cataract can develop after a person undergoes radiation treatment for cancer.
Cataracts are a common age-related vision problem.
About 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts, and the older a person gets the greater the risk for developing cataracts. As a person ages, any one type, or a combination of any of these three types, can develop over time.
Our focus will be on the three primary types of age-related cataracts: nuclear sclerotic, cortical, and posterior subcapsular – whereas they are the most common.
Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts:
This type of cataract refers to the hardening of the nucleus (center), of the corneal lens. During the early stages, the lens becomes cloudy and yellow before eventually 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. Complete clouding can eventually lead 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.
A cortical cataract begins as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the peripheral (outer edge) of the lens cortex. As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend toward the center and interfere with light passing through the center of the lens.
In contrast to nuclear cataracts, cortical cataracts are associated with the local disruption of the structure of mature fiber cells. Once membrane integrity is compromised, essential metabolites are lost from the affected cells.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts:
Posterior subcapsular cataracts are the most common lens opacities affecting patients younger than 60 years. Although posterior subcapsular cataracts can occur unilaterally (in one eye), it is frequently related to chronic intraocular inflammation, corticosteroid use, blunt ocular trauma, radiation exposure, and electric shock. The condition can also affect patients who have retinitis pigmentosa, Refsum’s disease, and high myopia.
Fortunately – ALL types of cataracts can be treated and with extremely high success rates for restored/improved vision. Call 781.251.2222 today, to learn more about cataract treatment options for you and your loved ones.