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Types of Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Written by- Gina Walters
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Cataracts are a very common eye disorder that usually develops naturally with age. 

It is the most common cause of vision impairment around the world. 

Cataracts occur due to the accumulation of proteins in the eye’s lens, which results in cloudiness and opacity. 

As a result, the eyesight gets unclear, blurred, or even worse.

However, if you act quickly, surgery can potentially reverse a cataract. 

The three most prevalent types of Cataracts, along with their symptoms, causes, and treatments, will be covered in this article.

What are the three types of Cataracts

Based on the site of development in the lens, the three major types of Cataracts are Cortical, Posterior subcapsular, and Nuclear sclerotic.

These three types of Cataracts can lead to gradual vision loss, which worsens over time.

Around 1 in 6 Americans over 40 suffer from Cataracts. 

However, aging is not the only factor that causes Cataracts. 

These may be caused by eye trauma, diseases including Diabetes, eye surgery, or other problems relating to the eyes. 

Steroid usage may also speed up the onset of Cataracts.

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Cortical cataract

The Cortical cataract first appears on the outer border of the lens. 

In its early stages, Cortical Cataracts lead to the formation of small cloudy patches or white streaks within the lens cortex. 

When the Cortical Cataracts worsen, these white streaks may eventually expand to reach the center of the lens. 

These streaks may prevent light from normally entering the lens. 

This, in turn, may lead to blurry vision and issues with depth perception. 

In addition, you may experience problems driving at night and glare from artificial sunlight.

This kind of Cataract develops when the cortex of the lens becomes cloudy.

Your risk of developing Cortical Cataracts increases if you have Diabetes. 

Cortical Cataracts may also become more prevalent due to excessive sun exposure.

Rather than taking years to manifest, this kind of Cataract symptoms appear within a few months. 

In the short term, prescription eyeglasses could help compensate for some vision loss, but eventually, Cataract surgery is done to treat this condition.

Several factors can lead to Cataracts. Read our article: ‘What causes Cataracts (causes of Cataracts)’ to explore the culprits behind Cataracts.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

types of cataractSource: Africa_images
Man with a cataract eye

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts (PSC) occur behind the lens, away from the capsule that keeps the lens in place. 

As the Cataract advances, it will further restrict the passage of light, resulting in glare. 

This form of Cataract is usually observed in people who have undergone eye injury or surgery and those who have Diabetes or have excessive near-sightedness. 

Your chances of developing Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts increase if you use steroids or are exposed to radiation.

PSCs often develop faster than other types of Cataracts. 

It may become visually noticeable over months or years but can also occur in weeks or even days.

This form of Cataract may impair one’s reading vision, generate glare or halos surrounding lights at night, and degrade vision in high-light conditions.

If not treated, Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts can cause considerable visual impairment, eventually leading to blindness.

Suggestion:
Cataracts often lead to blindness if left ignored and untreated. Consult an eye specialist if you experience any symptoms.

Nuclear Sclerosis Cataracts

The most prevalent kind of Cataract is Nuclear Sclerotic Cataract (also known as “Nuclear Cataract”). 

It is usually caused by old age. 

Nuclear Cataracts target the nucleus, or central part of the lens. 

This form of Cataract causes the lens to thicken and get heavily yellow or brown over time. 

The hardening of the lens is known as “sclerosis.”

Over time, new fibers grow around the lens’s edge, pushing the older lens material into the center and making it denser. 

As the clouding proceeds, it may migrate from the nucleus to other layers of the eye. 

Smoking makes you more prone to Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts.

Nuclear sclerosis impairs a person’s ability to focus. 

As a Nuclear Cataract progresses, the patient may have difficulty distinguishing between different color shades. 

With the yellowing of the lens, you’ll have difficulty seeing things in the distance, with objects appearing indistinct and colors seeming faded.

The condition develops gradually over time. 

Hence, it may be a few years before you notice a change in your vision, and your eyesight may continue to decline slowly.

Many individuals can avoid Cataract surgery by using good reading glasses and spectacles, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, and taking measures like not driving at night.

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How to treat Cataracts

cataract eyeSource: pixel_shots
Cataract eye surgery

Treatment is essential when you start to detect changes in your eyesight, cataract-related symptoms, or visual evidence of Cataracts. 

The only method to get rid of Cataracts and get clear eyesight again is through Cataract surgery.

To restore clear vision, the clouded lens is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).

A thorough eye exam is performed before surgery to assess the severity of the Cataract and measure the eye to establish the proper intraocular lens power.

Phacoemulsification is a procedure commonly used in modern Cataract surgery. 

This involves fragmenting the hazy lens into tiny fragments with ultrasonic energy, subsequently removing it from the eye via suction.

An artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is then implanted to replace the natural lens following the Cataract removal. 

The IOL aids in regaining sharp vision by focusing light onto the retina.

Cataract surgery has a very low risk of complications and is quite successful. 

Most patients report having better eyesight after the surgery. 

But before having the operation, it’s essential to consult your eye surgeon for possible risks and problems associated with surgery.

Warning:
Cataract surgery may carry potential risks and complications, such as infection and swelling of the cornea.

Conclusion

Nuclear sclerotic, Posterior subcapsular, and Cortical Cataracts are the three most prevalent forms of Cataracts.

Over time, all of them may cause a substantial loss of vision or even blindness.

The extent of vision loss determines the Cataract treatment.

If a Cataract has little to no effect on vision, treatment might not be necessary.

Patients can be advised to watch for worsening visual concerns and adhere to a routine check-up plan.

Occasionally, adjusting the prescription for eyeglasses might cause a short-term improvement in eyesight.

However, surgery could be required if a Cataract worsens to the point that it interferes with an individual’s ability to perform daily activities.

During Cataract surgery, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens.

It is advisable to consult a doctor if you have problems or abnormalities with your eyesight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common types of Cataracts?

Based on where they form in the lens, there are three main types of Cataracts: Cortical, Posterior subcapsular, and Nuclear sclerotic.

What is the most serious type of Cataract?

Posterior subcapsular Cataract is the most severe form of Cataract as it progresses faster than other forms of Cataract.

What is the most common type of Cataract?

Nuclear sclerotic is the most common type of Cataract, which generally occurs due to increased age affecting the center of the lens.

What mainly causes Cataracts?

Cataracts are generally caused due to increased age
However, eye injury or other eye problems like Glaucoma can also lead to Cataracts.

Is there any treatment for Cataracts?

Yes, Cataracts can be treated, and vision can be restored effectively with surgery. 

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