Types of Cataracts and How to Identify Them

May 17, 2022

A faded picture that demonstrates cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the world, accounting for approximately 42% of blindness. Risk factors for cataracts are long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun, diseases such as diabetes, inflammation in the eye, hereditary influences, long-term steroid use, eye injuries, smoking and a family history of cataracts.

The three common types of age-related cataracts are posterior subcapsular cataract, nuclear cataract, and cortical cataract. The less common anterior and congenital cataract both can affect children as well. Other types include secondary, senile and bilateral cataracts.

Posterior subcapsular cataract starts in the center of your vision and symptoms can develop quickly. This type of cataract progresses faster than others and is common with aging, diabetes and steroid use.

Nuclear sclerotic cataract (NSC) is the most common type of cataract. NSC grows slowly with noticeable color changes and a hard time seeing in dim lighted areas. With this cataract, you may feel like you constantly need a new prescription.

Cortical cataracts typically impacts the periphery and grows inward the center of your vision. Since this cataract grows in a spoke-like pattern that scatters light, it can make driving at night challenging.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts are sensitivity to light, poor vision at night, clouded or blurry vision, fading, or yellowing tint to colors.

Cataracts can be diagnosed by a visually acuity test, slit-lamp examination or retinal exam. Treatment options include new prescription glasses, contacts or cataract surgery.