Different types of cataracts

Cataracts come in all different colours and different sizes. The human lens is like a bright window when we are born. When we grow older, the lens changes its colour and gets bigger. There are three common types of cataract, but the word “cataract” refers to any imperfection or discolouration of the human lens.

The human lens, like an onion, is made up of layers. When the inner layers, or the heart, of the lens discolours (known as a ‘nuclear sclerotic cataract’), it becomes greenish at first. Then, it turns yellow and, then, brown and eventually, white as the cataract progresses.

White cataract

A white cataract is a very advanced cataract and needs an experienced surgeon as this type of cataract can be unstable and challenging to remove.

Cortical cataract

A cortical cataract is when the outermost layer of the lens discolours. This happens in a pattern similar to the spokes of a bicycle.

Posterior subscapular cataract

The other primary type of cataract affects the very back of the lens, right in the middle and directly in the central focus point of the lens, which is called posterior subcapsular cataract. It is more common with people who have had steroid tablets to treat other conditions. As it is right in the central focus of the lens, you don’t need much of this type of cataract to cause significant blurred vision or glare.

Christmas tree cataracts

Other types of cataract include ‘Christmas tree cataracts’ where the lens has sparkly particles throughout its layers; beautiful to examine and interestingly doesn’t cause much-blurred vision.

Regardless of the type of cataract, the operation to remove them is the same. Don’t worry too much about what type you have, just think about how it affects you and your vision day by day as that is how you should decide whether to have cataract surgery or not.