When you picture a person with cataracts, chances are you come to the same conclusion as most people: an elderly grandparent with gray hair and maybe a walker. While this stereotype is not necessarily unrealistic (most people older than 70 have some form of cataract development), cataracts are more widespread and complex than that. So, what are the different types of cataracts, and who exactly gets cataracts?
What Is a Cataract?
Before we go in depth, let’s get the basic definition of a cataract out of the way. A cataract occurs when the natural lens in the eye (located behind the iris) starts to become foggy. The natural lens is made up of mostly water and proteins. Cataracts happen when these proteins begin to break down and clump together for whatever reason. Over time, cataracts may grow more “mature” and can cause blindness.
The Different Types of Cataracts
Many people don’t think about the fact that there are multiple types of cataracts. There are actually quite a few!
Nuclear cataracts start forming in the middle of the lens and work their way towards the outer edges. This type of cataract often causes a yellow or brown tint to vision, leaving colors looking dull. This kind of cataract will leave your central vision blurry first.
Cortical cataracts are wedge-shaped and form around the edge of the “nucleus”, or center, of the lens.
Posterior capsular cataracts tend to form faster than the other types of cataracts. These cataracts get their name because they form on the back of the lens.
Congenital cataracts form in infancy. This type of cataract can be present at birth or form within the first year of life, and are way less common than age-related cataracts.
Secondary cataracts can be caused by medications, disease, or surgery “Secondary” in this context means that the cataract formed as a direct result of these things, and are not age-related.
Traumatic cataracts occur after an injury to the eye. Traumatic cataracts can be hard to diagnose, as they sometimes will develop years after an accident or injury.
Radiation cataracts occur after a person has undergone radiation treatment for cancer.
Who Is at Risk?
As you can see from the list of cataract types, cataract truly can happen to anyone. Of course, some people are more at risk than others.
Cataracts are mainly an age-related condition, affecting more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Age remains the biggest risk factor, but others include:
- Poor diet
- Other medical conditions like diabetes
- Excessive UV ray exposure
- Excessive drinking
- Poor overall health
While the exact cause of cataract is unknown, these factors are thought to play a part in their development.
Cataracts are only treatable through surgery. While that may sound scary, cataract surgery is actually a quick, simple, routine procedure. If you want to schedule a cataract consultation to go over your treatment options, contact Nielsen Eye Center in Quincy, MA. Our cataract experts are here to walk you through the process and get you seeing clearly in no time! Call us at 617.471.5665 or schedule an appointment online.