Other Types of Cataracts

Depending on the cause of the cataracts development there are several types, other than age-related cataracts, which have been defined. They are secondary cataracts, traumatic cataracts, congenital cataracts and radiation cataracts.

Secondary cataracts can form following other eye problems. Examples include an eye that was previously treated for glaucoma or a different eye problem or disease. Health problems such as diabetes can also cause the formation of secondary cataracts. Additionally, the excessive or prolonged use of steroids, including medically approved steroids, has also been linked to the increased risk of secondary cataracts development.

In some individuals, cataracts may develop immediately or years after an event which causes damage to the eye. This is known as a traumatic cataracts and can occur due to blunt trauma to the eye or from exposure of the eye to alkaline chemicals. A penetrating eye injury is associated with quick cataracts development.

If a child is born with a cataracts it is known as a congenital cataracts. In some cases this inherited condition may be insignificant enough to not interfere with vision, in which case it is left alone. If the cataracts does cause vision disturbances in the child the lens of the eye may be removed and replaced with a synthetic lens.

The gene causing cataracts is dominant, meaning that the child need only inherit the gene from one parent to develop the condition. Other sources of congenital cataracts are specific illnesses or infections that the mother has during pregnancy. Rubella and its associated metabolic disorder, known as galactosemia, both increase the risk of having a child with a congenital cataracts. Additionally, children can develop cataracts at a young age from any number of other causes and these cataracts are also said to be congenital.

The final category of cataracts is radiation cataracts. This type of cataracts may be caused from over exposure to ultraviolet sunlight and other forms of radiation. Population studies have actually concluded that exposure to sunlight over a prolonged period of time could double the risk of cortical cataracts. Interestingly enough, cataracts which form in the nuclear area of the lens were not shown to increase in occurrence from UV exposure. 11

Moreover, patients who are taking any medication which causes skin sun sensitivity should be aware that the medication will more than likely also increases the sensitivity of the eyes to the sunlight. Drugs of this type include, but are not limited to, some antibiotics, allopurinol (used in the treatment of gout), psoralen drugs (used to treat vitiligo and T-cell lymphoma), and phenothiazine drugs (used for mental and emotional illnesses). 11