Anatomy of a Cataract

Within the lens, cataracts can form in any of the three layers of the lens; the capsule, the cortex or the nucleus. Cataracts which develop in the posterior subcapsular (PSC) area (in the rear region of the lens capsule) are most often associated with diabetes and are the ones most likely to be found in a younger age group. This type of cataracts has also been linked to the long term use of corticosteroids, inflammation of the eye or eye associated trauma. In contrast, cataracts found in the cortical or nuclear areas are usually age-associated although there is a much higher risk of developing cortical cataracts when the eyes have been exposed excessively to damaging UV rays of the sun.

Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes and there can be more than one type of cataracts that develops in the same eye. Over time, many individuals with a cataracts in one eye usually go on to develop a cataracts in the other eye as well. Cataracts are not painful, they do not cause the eye to tear abnormally and they are not known to make the eye itchy or red.

There are three stages of cataracts currently defined; immature, mature and hypermature. If an individual still maintains part of their vision, meaning the lens still has some clear areas, the cataracts is said to be immature. A mature cataracts is one which is entirely clouded over or opaque. Finally, a hypermature cataracts has begun to leak fluid from its hard outer capsule which may lead to problems with adjacent areas of the eye.