A cataract is an opacity or haze in the crystalline lens within the eye. When a cataract forms, the cataract may reduce vision or create glare and halos. There are multiple types of cataracts that differ in the location within the lens and the appearance of the opacity in the lens. All cataracts ICD 10 impacting vision can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant.
There are two types of cataracts that are associated with the aging process.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts and cortical cataracts are both considered normal in aging individuals.
Both of these types of cataracts are extremely common in individuals over the age of fifty.
Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts
A nuclear sclerotic cataract forms within the center of the crystalline lens of the eye.
This portion of the crystalline lens is called the nucleus.
Within the nucleus, there is diffuse haziness and typically yellowing as well.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts are the most common type of cataract and are responsible for most referrals for cataract surgery.
Fortunately, these cataracts are slowly progressive and will usually be monitored annually for years before requiring surgical intervention.
Like nuclear sclerotic cataracts, cortical cataracts are present in the elderly population, but cortical cataracts are less prevalent than the nuclear sclerotic form.
The outer layers of the crystalline lens are the cortex.
Within the lens cortex, dots or spokes of opacities can form, creating cortical cataracts.
If cortical cataracts do not directly impede the line of sight, there may not be any symptoms or reduction in vision.
However, if the cataract is within the line of sight, there will be a significant impact on vision as these are usually dense and difficult to see through.
Cataracts That are NOT Associated with Aging
Unlike nuclear sclerotic and cortical cataracts, there are other types of cataracts that are not considered a normal part of aging.
These cataracts can be related to medication use or an underlying medical condition.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts, Christmas tree cataracts, and sunflower cataracts are all in this group of cataracts.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts
A posterior subcapsular cataract forms on the back surface of the crystalline lens.
These cataracts are small but central in the line of sight so they impact vision more than other forms of cataracts.
Long-term steroid use, both eye drops and oral medication can lead to the development of a posterior subcapsular cataract.
Additionally, these types of cataracts are associated with diabetes and may develop earlier than expected for normal aging.
Christmas Tree and Sunflower Cataracts
Christmas Tree and Sunflower cataracts are named based on the appearance of the opacity in the crystalline lens.
In a Christmas tree cataract, the appearance has several different colors which are often shimmering when viewed by an eye doctor.
These are associated with diabetes and are fairly uncommon.
Sunflower cataracts have a brown or yellow hue and are petal-shaped in appearance, which gives the name cataracts.
Sunflower cataracts are associated with Wilson’s disease which causes an increase in copper in the body.