Introduction to Cortical Cataracts

Ophthalmologists always advocate taking good care of your eyes via nutritious diets, healthy lifestyles, etc. Accordingly, you do so. However, advancing age, illness or trauma can bring changes in vision. If you become ultra-sensitive to light, do consult a medical practitioner. You could be suffering from cortical cataracts. 

Symptoms of Cortical Cataracts

Since the condition’s favorite targets are the elderly or people beyond their 50s, the medical fraternity uses the term senile cataract for this condition.  The lenses in your eyes comprise of two parts. The central region is the nucleus. Surrounding it is the cortex or cortical region. Look out for these symptoms:

  • The cortex begins to experience opaqueness.
  • The opacities begin from the periphery.
  • They move towards the center or nucleus. 
  • Their appearance could be wedge-shaped, or akin to white streaks (cortical spokes).
  • There is a gradual blurring of vision.
  • Glaring lights bother you at night. You can neither walk nor drive comfortably.
  • Your eyes cannot tolerate brilliant sunlight or bright artificial lighting. 

Ignoring the symptoms or leaving it too late for tackling, may bring on lens-induced glaucoma. This refers to the build-up of excessive pressure in the eye. As a result, the optic nerve, which sends visual images to the brain, suffers damage/destruction.

Causes of Cortical Cataracts

You may become a victim of cortical cataracts, even if you are young or middle-aged. The risk factors include – 

  • Prior inflammation/injury of the eyes
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis etc
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Chronic smoking
  • Excessive usage of corticosteroid drugs
  • Excessive exposure to harsh sunlight
  • Obesity

Sometimes, it is congenital, albeit rare. Here, bluish punctuate dots show up in the cortical region. We call them blue dot cataracts.

Also Check: How to Outpace Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

What contributes to the appearance of cortical cataracts?

  • Your eye lenses are both, solid and liquid in construction. They are part of the cornea.
  • The solid part comprises of protein fibers. The light that enters your eyes, pass through them.
  • The liquid part comprises of water. It keeps the lenses moist.
  • As you age, newer protein fibers come into being.
  • There is a clustering of old and new fibers in the cortical region.
  • This disturbance in the arrangement of protein fibers leads to clouding of vision.

Treatment of Cortical Cataracts

Surgery is the only option. There are two types of surgeries.

  • Phacoemulsification – The surgeon uses a hand-held appliance for releasing an ultrasonic pulse. This signal is strong enough to destroy the cataract into bits. A tube, serving as a vacuum pump, suctions the destroyed material. Finally, your eye receives a new intraocular lens.
  • Femto cataract surgery– The phacoemulsification procedure is further advanced by using femtosecond laser to make the opening in the eye and the lens anterior capsule, fragment the lens material into tiny pieces and place toric cuts on the cornea in case there is high cylindrical power in the eye. This makes the surgical outcome more predictable and safe. 

Do meet the cataract specialists for a proper consultation and the right course of the treatment.

Dr. Swapnali Sabhapandit

Dr. Swapnali Sabhapandit

MS, FLVPEI Cornea Specialist at Neoretina
Dr. Swapnali completed her MBBS from Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati, Assam. She did her MS (2004-2007) from the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Guwahati, Assam. She did clinical Cornea and Anterior Segment Fellowships from Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry and subsequently from LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. Dr. Swapnali is a skilled surgeon and her special interests include LASIK and refractive surgeries, management of keratoconus and corneal transplant surgeries.
Dr. Swapnali Sabhapandit