You usually get cataracts when you’re older, but not always. They can show up at birth, after an injury, or because you have another health problem. There are many different types, but they all have one thing in common: a cloudy lens — the part of your eye that helps you focus light. As a cataract starts growing, it gets harder and harder to see clearly. Your doctor will talk with you about the type you have, and help you figure out your treatment options.
Nuclear Cataracts: Also called a nuclear sclerotic cataract, this is the kind doctors see most. Anyone who lives long enough usually ends up with one. They form in the center of the lens, known as the nucleus. In time, the lens hardens and turns yellow or even brown. You have a hard time seeing small details, colors get less rich, and you see halos around bright objects at night.
Cortical Cataracts: These take shape on the outside edge of your lens, called the cortex. They start as white wedges, like triangles that point toward the center of your eye. As they grow, they scatter light. If you have these cataracts, the main symptom is glare. You may find it hard to drive at night.
Congenital Cataracts: These are cataracts you’re born with or that form when you’re a child. Some are linked to your genes, and others are due to an illness, like rubella, that your mother had during pregnancy. When they’re small or outside the center of the lens, they may not need treatment. But when a baby’s born with one that blocks vision, a doctor needs to remove it because it can stop the eye from learning to see.
Posterior Subscapular Cataracts: These cataracts form just inside the back of your lens capsule — the part of your eye that surrounds the lens and holds it in place. They’re directly in the path of light as it passes through the lens. They’re quicker to come on than other cataracts, and you may get symptoms within months. They affect your close-up vision and make it harder to see in bright lighting.
Anterior Subscapular Cataracts: This type forms just inside the front of your lens capsule. An injury or swelling in your eye can lead to one. So, can a type of eczema call atopic dermatitis.
Traumatic Cataracts: Many kinds of injuries can lead to a cataract. You can get one if you’re hit in the eye by a ball or get hurt from a burn, chemical, or splinter. The cataract could come on soon after the injury or not show up until years later.
Secondary Cataracts: When another condition or a medical treatment leads to a cataract, doctors call it secondary. Diabetes, taking steroids like prednisone, and even cataract surgery are possible causes.
Radiation Cataracts: You may know it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, but it can take a toll on your eyes, too. You can sometimes get cataracts if you spend too much time in the sun without eye protection. People who work outdoors are more likely to get this kind of cataract. To prevent it, wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection. Cataracts are also a possible side effect from radiation therapy for cancer.
Lamellar or Zonular Cataracts: This type typically shows up in younger children and in both eyes. The genes that cause them are passed from parent to child. These cataracts form fine white dots in the middle of the lens and Over time, the whole center of the lens may turn white.