Types of Cataracts: All You Need to Know

Amoha Jha
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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Types of cataracts

A cataract is an eye condition in which opacities are developed in the eye lens. It can result in various vision problems.

These problems depend on the cause and type of the condition.

Different types of Cataracts can trigger different issues in patients. 

One can have cataracts from birth, while some can get them with age. 

In the United States, it accounts for approximately 50% of visual impairment in adults over 40.

The most common kind of cataract is age-related cataracts. Other types of cataracts are rare, but they still exist. 

Based on location in the lens, it is divided into three types: nuclear sclerotic (central), cortical (outer edge), and posterior subcapsular (back) cataracts.

Based on the shape of cataracts, two types are known: polychromatic (Christmas tree) and diabetes (snowflake) cataracts.

Read on to know more about Cataract types which can help diagnose and treat the condition effectively.

Did you know?
Cataract is the prime cause of blindness worldwide.

Age-related cataracts

By the age of 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts. 

It is also known as a senile cataract.

This type of cataract can also be naturally prevented.

They are further divided into three types based on the location of these cataracts:

  • Nuclear sclerotic cataract 
  • Cortical cataract
  • Posterior subcapsular cataract
Types of cataractsSource: Jevaan_Ladi
types of cataract

Nuclear sclerotic cataract

This term comprises two words: ‘nuclear’ and ‘sclerotic.’

Nuclear refers to the gradual clouding of the lens’s central portion, the nucleus.

Sclerotic refers to the hardening of the nucleus. 

Thus, when the central part of the lens gets cloudy and hard, it is known as a nuclear sclerotic cataract.

Cortical cataract

In this type of cataract, streaks-like shapes on the outer edge of the lens cortex are present. 

These streaks start extending to the center, resulting in difficulty in passing light through the lens.

Research states that cortical cataracts develop when the area of lens fibers surrounding the nucleus becomes opaque.

Posterior subcapsular cataract

In the posterior subcapsular cataract, a small cloudy or opaque area appears on the back of the lens.

This cataract’s symptoms develop rapidly, and one can notice it within some months.

Traumatic cataract

This cataract can occur because of blunt force trauma or trauma penetrating the eye’s lens. 

Traumatic cataract in children and adults is a common cause of unilateral visual loss, especially after penetrating injuries.

Wearing UV-protected glasses won’t reverse trauma cataracts. Connect with your doctor for a detailed consultation about surgeries.

Congenital cataract

A congenital cataract is the type of cataract that is present in a child’s lens from birth.

In the US, approximately 1 in every 250 children is born with a congenital cataract​​.

If the lens opacity is not detected in the infant by the doctors, it may lead to permanent blindness.

It is further divided into two types:

Cerulean cataract

This type of cataract appears in the lens, and mostly it has a bluish or whitish color.

These are usually present from birth but sometimes can only be detected in adulthood. 

Polar cataract

This cataract is smaller in size and appears in the central part of the lens.

Based on the location, it is further divided into two types:

Secondary cataract

cataract symptomsSource: geckophotos_from_Getty_Images
secondary cataract

As the name suggests, ‘secondary’ roughly means something consecutively coming after the other.

These cataracts are caused after eye cataract surgery is performed.

However, it is also said (but not confirmed) that different diseases and medications cause secondary cataracts.

Polychromatic cataract

This type of cataract is idiopathic or associated with myotonic dystrophy.

However, some researchers believe it is also a variant of age-related cataracts.

It is also known as a Christmas tree cataract in which colored crystals are present in the lens.

Snowflake cataract

Snowflake cataract has gray-white subcapsular opacities.

This cataract is rare but mostly happens to people with diabetes mellitus. Thus it is also known as a diabetes cataract.


The commonly known type of cataract is age-related cataracts. 

However, there are other types of cataracts based on location and shape.

In addition, children can also have cataracts. They can get it by birth or because of an injury.

Traumatic cataracts can happen to anyone as it is related to injuries.

Moreover, you can also get a cataract even after getting cataract surgery. This is known as a secondary cataract.

Visit WowRxPharmacy, to know about cataract treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most severe type of cataract?

Any type of cataract is severe if you experience difficulty performing daily tasks due to your vision. Cataract surgery is needed if your vision has become densely clouded and dim or you have double vision in a single eye.

What is the most common type of cataract?

Age-related cataracts are the most common type of cataracts. As per NEI, 15.45% of people aged 60-64 get a cataract, which goes up to 68.3% for people aged 80+ who get cataracts.

What are fast-growing cataracts?

Trauma-related cataracts are considered the fastest-growing. Rapid cataracts can be formed if the lens capsule ruptures with seepage of aqueous humor into lens fibers.

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