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Types of Cataracts

August 28, 2018

There are several different types, or classifications, of cataracts and all decrease vision in some way or another.  

The 3 types differ in their appearance (morphology) and how eye doctors describe the cataract.  One is not better or worse than the other and all decrease your vision in different ways.


The symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision, decreased night vision, glare, frequent change of glasses prescription, halos, decreased color vision, etc. Not all types decrease vision in the same way, but rather depend upon the type of cataract. The 3 types of include:

  1. Nuclear 
  2. Cortical 
  3. Posterior subcapsular cataracts

Patients may develop any one of these types of lens changes alone or elements of a combination. Cataracts are not a disease. They usually develop with increasing age or in association with certain systemic disease such as diabetes.

The Natural Lens

The natural lens is very similar to an M&M candy.  The lens material is surrounded by a capsule which is normally as clear as plastic wrap.  In the analogy, the lens material is the chocolate and the lens capsule is the outside candy coating.

Nuclear Cataract

Nuclear cataracts form in the center of the lens.  The lens becomes more colored in the center core of the lens. Most common symptoms of the nuclear type are an increase in nearsightedness, blurry vision and halos around lights.


Cortical cataracts have changes occurring in the outer peripheral portions of the lens.  The changes resemble slices or wedges as seen in an ice cube. Cortical lens changes blur vision, cause glare and loss of color vision.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

These cataracts occur along the posterior capsule of the lens.  In the M&M analogy, the cataract forms along the inside surface of the candy coating. Halos and glare are very common in addition to blurry vision.

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