What Is a Cortical Cataract?

September 10th, 2020

Cataracts are a natural condition that affect us as we get older. They are quite common, especially in adults over 40, and they are often easily treated with corrective lenses or surgery. Many people don’t realize there are three types of cataracts that impact different parts of our eye. This article will look at cortical cataracts and discuss symptoms, causes and treatment.

Cortical Cataracts: An Overview

A cortical cataract affects the outer edge of our eye’s lens and creates cloudy “spokes” that impair our vision. These spokes begin at the outside edge of the lens cortex (the outermost layer of the lens) and slowly work their way toward the center of the eye. Eventually, these spokes will converge until the entirety of the cortex is covered, and vision is completely impaired.

Symptoms of Cortical Cataracts

At first, like most types of cataracts, cortical cataract symptoms are mild. Someone with cortical cataracts will notice a blurry or cloudy area along the outer boundary of their vision. It may be barely noticeable at first and won’t cause a huge amount of inconvenience. But over time these blurry spokes infringe further toward the center of the person’s vision and make it much tougher to see clearly and focus, especially at night. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision across the field of view.
  • Lines of blurred vision along the outside like spokes on a wheel creating streaks that move toward the center of the field of view.
  • Difficulty seeing in low light conditions, especially when driving at night.
  • Sensitivity to bright light and glare.
  • Colors become faded or yellowish.
  • Seeing a “halo” effect around lights.

Causes of Cortical Cataracts

Aging of the eye is the primary cause of cortical cataracts. As we get older, our eyes’ lenses become weaker, less flexible and thicker. This increases the likelihood of our lenses becoming cloudy. This increased cloudiness limits the amount of light through our lens to the retina, resulting in blurred vision.

Injury can also damage the eye’s lens and lead to cataracts. Any other trauma to the eye, such as surgery or disease can also weaken the tissue of the lens and lead to cataracts. Genetic history makes some people more susceptible to cortical cataracts as they grow older.

Cortical cataracts typically affect both eyes simultaneously, but it’s not uncommon for one eye to suffer more severe symptoms than the other.

Treatment for Cortical Cataracts

The first stage of cortical cataract treatment involves using corrective lenses. Although prescription lenses don’t necessarily cure the cataract, they can overcome the blurry symptoms caused by the cataracts to help you see more clearly. If you already wear corrective lenses, your eye doctor may increase the power of your prescription.

If corrective lenses are not able to fix the problem, then cataract surgery is the solution. Cataract surgery is quite routine and very safe, as more than three million Americans undergo the process each year. Cortical cataract surgery involves removing the old lens and replacing it with an artificial one.

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