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- Picture of Cataracts
- What Are Cataracts?
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- Patient Comments: Cataracts - Symptoms
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- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
- Facts about cataracts
- What is a cataract?
- What are the different types of cataracts?
- What are risk factors for cataracts?
- What are causes of cataracts?
- What are the symptoms of cataracts?
- What are the signs of cataracts?
- What types of specialists treat cataracts?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose cataracts?
- What is the treatment for cataracts?
- What are risks of the different types of cataract surgery? How long is the recovery after cataract surgery?
- What are complications of cataracts?
- What is the prognosis of cataracts?
- Is it possible to prevent cataracts?
- Where can people get more information on cataracts?
Quick GuideCataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery
What are the different types of cataracts?
Cataracts can be classified by anatomical location within the lens, degree of clouding of the lens, or by the cause of the cataract.
The lens of the human eye is shaped and sized similar to an M&M candy. It has a front (anterior) part and a back (posterior) part. The central portion of the lens is called the lens nucleus, and the outer portion is called the lens capsule. Between the inner nucleus and the outer capsule is a portion of the lens called the cortex. Clouding of the lens can occur only in the nucleus, in which case the term "nuclear cataract" or "nuclear sclerosis" is used. If the clouding occurs in the lens cortex only, the cataract is termed a "cortical cataract." If the loss of clarity of the lens is primarily in or adjacent to the capsule, the term "subcapsular cataract" is used. The location of the clouding can also be defined as being anterior or posterior, central, or peripheral. Often the clouding of the lens may affect multiple portions of the lens. The most common type of cataract that is related to age is sometimes termed a "senile cataract." This type of cataract primarily involves the nucleus of the lens. Cataracts that develop in the posterior subcapsular area (in the rear region of the lens capsule) are more common in younger age groups.
Any degree of loss of the normal transparency of the lens is called a cataract. The cloudier the lens, the more advanced the degree of cataract. A cataract may be mild, moderate, or severe. It may be early or advanced. If the lens is totally opaque it is termed a "mature" cataract. Any cataract that is not opaque is therefore termed an "immature" cataract. Most mature cataracts are white in color.
What are risk factors for cataracts?
Advanced age is a significant risk factor for the development of cataracts. A family history for early development of cataracts, the presence of diabetes, tobacco use, and prolonged exposure to sunlight are also risk factors, as is trauma to the eye.