More than 2.5 million Canadians are currently living with cataracts. A progressive condition often associated with aging populations, a cataract can cause significant visual changes and in some extreme cases, total vision loss. It’s the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
Cataracts develop and worsen over time. The lens of the eye, which is naturally clear, starts to harden and yellow, causing visual clouding. As the condition progresses, the clouding of the eye obstructs the retina, making it harder for light to reach it. This is why most patients don’t notice visual disturbances until it becomes much more difficult to see.
Types of cataracts
- Nuclear cataracts are the most commonly occurring type and most often age-related. This type of cataracts takes years to form, so the onset is often gradual and harder to detect.
- Cortical cataracts develop outside the edge of the lens, inside its cortex. The cortex is composed of water and proteins. Changes in the water and proteins can cause fissures, scattering light as it enters and resulting in blurred vision. This type of cataract often occurs in patients with diabetes.
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts start as a small, cloudy areas in the back of the lens surface, forming beneath the lens capsule. This type of cataract most often develops in individuals with diabetes, extreme nearsightedness, or retinitis pigmentosa. It can progress very rapidly (within months).