What Are The 3 Types of Cataracts: Symptoms & Treatment

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November 20, 2023

Known as a leading cause of visual impairment globally, cataract isn’t new for many. However, we bet, not many understand what cataract is in-depth nor are aware of the types of cataracts that may affect them differently. All these are crucial to know during your cataract eye exam, especially if the diagnosis may require you to have cataract eye surgery.

In this read, we will dive together into understanding cataracts in a general understanding before getting into what are the 3 types of cataracts and the symptoms that come with them before looking into cataract treatment options. Let’s get to it!

Understanding Cataract As a Visual Impairment

What is a cataract? Simply put, it is the clump of protein that has built up over time causing the natural eye lens to be clouded, which comes off as blurry vision. The natural lens is responsible for focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, allowing us to have clear vision. While it may affect people of all ages, this particular eye condition commonly affects those who are crossing their late 40s, given it is a disease associated with ageing.

With different types of cataracts existing, getting a proper diagnosis is very important to ensure accurate treatment is given to remedy the condition and its effect towards your vision.

The 3 Types of Cataract : What Are They and Common Symptoms?

A Nuclear Sclerotic Cataract, commonly known as the Nuclear Cataract, primarily affects the centre of the eye lens, which is the nucleus. This particular type of cataract out of the 3 is usually the result of advancing age. With nuclear cataracts, what happens is that the lens gradually hardens, often referred to as ‘sclerosis’ and turns densely yellow or brown over time.

As the condition progresses, some may begin to also find it difficult for the patient to distinguish between different shades of colour. Many delay the option for cataract surgery with effective reading glasses and eyeglasses, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, and taking precautions such as avoiding night driving.

The second type of cataract, a Cortical Cataract, affects the outer edges of the lens and progresses its way into the centre of the natural lens, in which the opacities are formed in the lens cortex.

They often resemble the spokes of a wheel and can cause glare, halos, and difficulties with contrast sensitivity. Vision can be especially impaired when bright light or glare is present. Even though prescription eyeglasses may help make up for some vision loss in the short term, eventually eye cataract surgery will be needed to correct this condition.

Last but not least, the third type of cataract is the Posterior Subcapsular Cataract which forms on the back surface of the lens, just underneath the lens capsule. Through its progression, the obstruction of the path of light that causes glare increases as well.

Contrary to the Nuclear Cataract, the Posterior Subcapsular Cataract are frequently found in those who have high blood sugar level or have undergone steroid treatment, eye trauma or surgery. The progression of this type of cataract is typically more rapid than other forms of cataract.

Having said that, if left untreated, posterior subcapsular cataracts may result in significant impairment of vision and can progress to the point of blindness which is a tremendous change from just having difficulty in reading, struggling with glare, and halos, especially when looking at bright lights or screens.

The common symptoms to look out for amongst all these 3 types of cataract are such as blurred or cloudy vision, increased sensitivity to glare especially during night time, difficulty reading or seeing in low light, frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions, double vision in one eye and colours appearing faded or yellowed.

Cataract Treatment and Surgery

As soon as you notice the symptoms or changes in your vision, it is essential to get an eye examination done as any delay could cause significant damage that may be challenging to treat later on. For cataracts, the primary treatment option involves surgical intervention when the cataract significantly impairs vision or daily activities.

Luckily with advanced technology, cataract surgery has become much more effective and safe, giving assurance to those who need surgical intervention for cataract treatment upon their cataract examination and final diagnosis. You will be additionally fortunate to not rely on glasses post-surgery, of course depending on the diagnosis and lens option chosen for the surgery.

After reading all the above, remember that any changes in your vision is something to not neglect and best to get an eye examination right away to ensure your eye gets the deserving care it requires, for a better and quality life for yourself and your loved ones.

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