What are the Main Types of Cataracts?

Cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in people over the age of 40. This primarily age-related condition can cause progressive vision loss leading to eventual blindness. Fortunately, patients with the condition can have their sight restored with cataract surgery – a very safe and successful procedure.

​​​​​​​Most people have heard of cataracts. However, only a small number are aware that there are different varieties. Here’s what you need to know about the main types of cataracts.

Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts are the most common variety of cataracts. They are known as nuclear because they begin life in the nucleus, which is the center of the lens. As a nuclear sclerotic cataract progresses, it can spread from the nucleus to other areas of the eye.

​​​​​​​Conventional cataracts are caused by the natural hardening of the lens of the eye, which happens with advancing age. People with this type of cataracts usually have better near than intermediate or long-distance vision. Age is the biggest factor in their development, but smoking will increase the likelihood of you developing this type of cataract.

types of cataracts

Most nuclear sclerotic cataracts develop slowly, with symptoms including:

  • Difficulty seeing street signs, cars, the roads, and pedestrians when driving
  • Objects appear blurred
  • Colors appear faded
  • Struggling with glare and bright light
  • Halos around light sources
  • Needing to change your prescription regularly

This type of cataract is usually detected at routine eye exams.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

Posterior subcapsular cataracts get their name from the fact that they form on the back surface (posterior) of the lens, and beneath the lens capsule. The lens capsule is a small membrane that covers the lens, protecting it and holding it in place. Anyone can develop this type of cataract, but if you have diabetes, severe myopia, use steroids, or are regularly exposed to radiation, you are at greater risk.

​​​​​​​While cataracts usually develop slowly, posterior subcapsular cataracts actually cause much faster deterioration of vision than other types, with the first symptoms becoming apparent in a matter of months. For this reason, knowing what the symptoms of cataracts are can be invaluable for obtaining a prompt diagnosis and getting started with treatment.

Some of the symptoms of posterior subcapsular cataracts include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Glare and halos when looking at bright lights
  • Difficulty reading at night
  • Problems with near vision
  • Loss of contrast sensitivity

If you believe that you may be affected, we strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with our eye doctor right away.

Cortical Cataracts

Cortical means the outer layer of something. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cortical cataracts are a type of cataract that develops on the edge of the lens and then extends inwards towards the center in a manner that is similar to a bike spoke. This progression scatters the light as it enters the eye, causing symptoms including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Blurry lines in your field of vision
  • Glare from the sun
  • Glare from artificial lighting
  • Difficulty driving at night

Cortical cataracts can also develop fairly rapidly, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are recommended.

If you’d like to learn more about cataracts, or if you have any concerns about your vision, please speak to our dedicated eye care team at Progressive Ophthalmology. Call 718-565-2020 today!