What are the Different Types of Cataracts

What are the Different Types of Cataracts

A cataract is a common age-related eye condition that results in the clouding of the natural crystalline lens within the eye, leading to reduced vision, glare, and halos. There are various kinds of cataracts that differ according to the site and appearance of the opacity in the lens. Fortunately, all cataracts that affect vision can be surgically corrected by replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial one.


Age-Related Cataracts

Two age-related cataracts that are considered normal in the aging process are nuclear sclerotic cataracts and cortical cataracts. Both of these cataracts are frequent in individuals over 50 years of age.

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts occur in the center of the crystalline lens of the eye, within the nucleus, causing hazy and yellowing vision. These are the most common type of cataracts and are responsible for most referrals for cataract surgery.

Cortical cataracts are less prevalent than the nuclear sclerotic form and occur on the outer layers of the crystalline lens cortex. These appear as dots or spokes of opacities and may not impact vision unless they affect the line of sight and obstruct clear vision.


Cataracts NOT Associated with Aging

Unlike age-related cataracts, there are other types of cataracts not considered a normal part of aging. Some of them are posterior subcapsular cataracts, Christmas tree cataracts, and sunflower cataracts.


Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts (PSC)

Posterior subcapsular cataracts occur on the back surface of the crystalline lens and affect vision more than other forms of cataracts because they are small but central in the line of sight.

Long-term steroid use, both eye drops and oral medication, is a common cause of developing these cataracts, which can also be associated with diabetes and develop earlier than expected for normal aging.

Christmas Tree and Sunflower Cataracts

Christmas tree cataracts and sunflower cataracts are named after their appearance. Christmas tree cataracts have a shimmering, multi-colored appearance, whereas sunflower cataracts are in a petal-shaped appearance with a brown or yellow hue.

Christmas tree cataracts are uncommon and associated with diabetes. Sunflower cataracts are infrequent and associated with Wilson’s disease, which leads to the accumulation of copper in the body.


Symptoms and Treatments for Cataracts

Cataracts are characterized by hazy vision or halos in the affected eye, which can significantly impact a person’s visual acuity and quality of life. Impaired night vision and difficulty driving may be symptoms that cause enough issues to warrant further treatment.

While some cataracts are common in aging individuals, others are associated with medication use or underlying medical conditions.

Early detection, through routine eye exams, is key to managing cataracts and improving visual acuity, and the patient’s quality of life.

To treat cataracts, a surgery called cataract extraction is performed to remove the crystalline lens and replace it with an implant. This is a very safe and common procedure.

This surgery allows the cataract to be removed entirely and it will not return — regardless of which type of cataract is present or if there is a mixture of multiple types of cataracts.


Dr. Jorge Malouf and the staff of the Malouf Eye specialize in a variety of ophthalmologic conditions and treatments including cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, strabismus surgery, neuro-ophthalmology exams, oculoplastics, diabetes and more.  Call our ophthalmologist in Tampa, FL today at 813-798-2020 if you are interested in different types of cataracts.  Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Tampa, Florida area.