What are the 3 Types of Cataracts?

Did you know that there are three primary types of cataracts? The experts at Elmquist Eye Group explain the differences below.

What are the 3 Types of Cataracts?

What is a Cataract?

Cataracts are cloudy areas in the normally clear lens of the eye, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. Cataracts affect one in six Americans over the age of 40.

Are There Different Types of Cataracts?

There are three primary types of cataracts: nuclear sclerotic, posterior subscapular, and cortical.

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts, those that gradually cloud the central “nucleus” of the lens, are the most common. At first, you may notice changes in the affected eye and may have a difficult time focusing. Your close-up vision may temporarily improve. This is called “second sight,” and is not permanent. Nuclear sclerotic cataracts progress slowly and may not affect your vision for many years.

Cortical cataracts affect the cortex, or outside edge, of the lens. Changes in the lens fiber water content create clefts, or fissures, that resemble the spokes of a wheel pointing from the outside edge of the lens toward the center. This causes light to scatter. Without proper lighting, you may experience blurred vision, glare, and poor depth perception.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts begin as a cloudy area on the back surface (posterior) of the lens. It is called “subcapsular” because it forms under the lens capsule, a small “sac” that encloses the lens and holds it in place. This type of cataract creates a “halo” effect, which can cause you to see glare around lights and have difficulty reading. It is quite aggressive and many people notice a difference in their vision in just a few months. If you are diabetic, take steroids, or are extremely nearsighted, you are at a greater risk for posterior subscapular cataracts.

In addition to these three main types of cataracts, cataracts may also form after an eye injury (called traumatic cataracts) and after surgery for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma (called secondary cataracts).

Cataract Treatment

Cataracts cannot be treated with medicines, vitamins or eye drops. Surgery is the only proven treatment. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a customized, artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most highly perfected surgical procedures in medicine, with a 95% success rate. Of course, as with any surgery, risks do exist and should be discussed with your Elmquist eye doctor before the procedure.

Get in touch with Elmquist Eye Group at (239) 936-2020 for more information about the three types of cataracts and the treatment options.