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Senior Vision: Recognizing The Three Different Types of Cataracts

July 19, 2012

Learning more about this common type of vision loss among seniors.

We have all heard the many shocking statistics that surround cataracts disease―the most common cause of vision loss in the United States.

Types of Cataracts

According to Prevent Blindness America, cataracts affects more than 22 million Americans aged 40 and older. And, as the American population continues to grow each and every year, more than 30.1 million Americans are projected to have cataracts by the year 2020. This means that there are more cases of cataracts globally than there are of age-related macular , glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy combined.

Also, cataracts have no real definite cause―one of the more frustrating aspects of this vision disease. In most cases across the world, cataracts are simply a part of the aging process. As you get older, your chances of developing this common vision increases

However, despite all of these shocking facts and figures that are shared about this vision problem, what many people do not often know about cataracts is the fact that there are three different types which can have a negative effect on a person’s vision.

The three different types of cataracts include:

A Nuclear Cataract

When a cataract is considered nuclear, it has formed deep within the central nucleus zone of the eye’s lens, caused primarily by the hardening and yellowing of the lens over time. This type of cataract is very common and is often associated with the aging process. As this type of cataract progresses, it changes the eye’s ability to focus, and close-up vision (for reading or other types of close work) may temporarily improve.

A Posterior Subcapsular (PSC) Cataract

A cataract that is classified as PSC often occurs at the back of the lens and begins as a small opaque or cloudy area on the “posterior,” or back surface of the lens. It forms beneath the lens capsule, which is a small “sac,” or membrane, that encloses the lens and holds it in place. People with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa, or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a PSC cataract.  Younger patients also tend to get this type of cataract.

A Cortical Cataract

Characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens, a cortical cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus. Changes in the water content of the lens fibers create clefts, or fissures, that look like the spokes of a wheel pointing from the outside edge of the lens in toward the center. These fissures can cause the light that enters the eye to scatter, creating problems with blurred vision, glare, contrast, and depth perception.

If you or someone you know is suffering from one of these types of cataracts, surgery may just be the best option for you. Cataract surgery is a quick and simple procedure in which the surgeon places a small incision at the edge of the cornea, removes the clouded lens of the eye, then replaces it with a new intraocular lens (IOL). This is done by inserting a small, ultrasonic probe to break up the clouded lens into a tiny parts which are then suctioned out of the eye. Next, the IOL is inserted to replace the cataract and is perfectly aligned by the surgeon, resulting in the return of vision.

For more information about OCLI’s cataract procedure, be sure to contact us today or fill out an online application for your free vision consultation.

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