What are the 3 Types of Cataracts?

Cataracts, a prevalent eye disorder that causes clouding of the natural lens, are the most common cause of blindness around the world. Although most people think of cataracts as a singular condition, there are actually, a variety of types. Knowing the different types is essential to recognize symptoms, seeking the appropriate treatment, and understanding the effects on vision. This article will explore the three main types of cataracts: nuclear Sclerotic Cortical, the Posterior Subcapsular type of cataracts.

Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts

Nuclear Sclerotic cataracts are the most prevalent type of cataract and are often connected to aging. The word “nuclear” refers to the central portion of the lens also known as the nucleus. This is where this kind of cataract is formed.

  • Development and Symptoms: This type of cataract is usually developed slowly over a period of time. At first patients might notice some improvements in near sight, referred to in the field of “second sight.” But when the lens becomes more hardened and gets more yellow, vision slowly gets blurred and coloured. The yellowing may affect perception of colours which makes it hard to differentiate between different hues.
  • Treatment and Prognosis: Because of their gradual growth nuclear sclerotic cataracts do not require surgical intervention immediately. But as the cataract develops it could significantly affect vision, which makes surgical intervention essential. The procedure involves taking out the lens that is cloudy to replace it with clear artificial lens.

Cortical Cataracts

Cortical cataracts form in the lens cortex that is the area around the central nucleus. They are identified by opacities that are wedge-shaped or streaks emanating from the outer edges of the lens towards the middle.

  • Development and Symptoms: This kind of cataract usually is triggered by changes in amount of water and the fibre structure within the lens’s cortex. As the cataract develops the streaks expand towards the centre blocking the passage of light, causing issues with the perception of depth, glare and the sensitivity to contrast. Patients also may experience difficulty in dim light conditions.
  • Treatment and Prognosis: The effect on the vision can be a lot different with cortical cataracts, based on the size and position of the obstructions. If the cataracts are causing significant difficulty in daily activities, surgery could be suggested. The procedure for surgery is similar to the one used to treat nuclear cataracts that have sclerotic underlying and has a very high success rate.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

Posterior Subcapsular cataracts develop on the posterior part of the lens just in front of the path of light that enters the eye. They develop under the lens capsule that is a tiny membrane that covers the lens.

  • Development and Symptoms: This type of cataract may grow quickly, and they are also known to cause serious symptoms even when they are small. Common problems include difficulty reading, decreased vision in bright light, as well as pronounced halos or glares around lights. Contrary to other types of cataracts, posterior subcapsular ones can be seen in younger individuals and are usually caused by certain risk factors, such as diabetic steroid usage severe near-sightedness, as well as the exposure of radiation.
  • Treatment and Prognosis: Due to the profound impact in vision even if the cataract isn’t too large surgery is usually recommended earlier than later. The procedure is usually effective and may result in substantial improvements in the quality of vision.


Each cataract type has distinct characteristics and effects on vision. Knowing the differences is essential to detect early and provide effective treatment. Regular eye exams are crucial especially for those who are getting older or has high risk factors for developing cataracts. The most recent surgical techniques to remove cataracts are extremely efficient and can result in a return of vision as well as an improvement in standard of living for those suffering. Thanks to advances in ophthalmology patients suffering from cataracts have a bright future with the potential of recovering bright, clear vision.

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