Cataracts cause a clouding effect on the lens of the eye that affects vision. In previous posts, we’ve talked about their causes and preventions, but for this month’s post, we’re going to dive deeper into the issue and discuss the types and grades of cataracts, as well as the kinds of replacement lenses that are available for surgery.

Types and Grades of Cataracts

If you’ve had a comprehensive eye exam and have been diagnosed with cataracts, your eye-care professional will probably inform you of the type and grade of your cataract/s. First, the type is what kind of cloudiness you have on your lens. There are three common types of cataracts that a person can have — there are others as well, like congenital and traumatic, among others — but these are the main ones:

  • Nuclear Sclerotic: Where the central portion of the lens is cloudy.
  • Cortical Spoking: Because of swelling in the cortex, spoke-like cloudiness develops on the outer edge of the lens.
  • Posterior Subcapsular: The area at the back of the lens develops cloudiness.

After the type of cataract is figured out, then it will be graded. Grading helps to track how severe the cataract is, whether it’s growing or stable, and if surgery is recommended. There are four grades for cataracts:

  • Grade I: Early/Mild.
  • Grade II: Moderate.
  • Grade III: Advanced/Pronounced.
  • Grace IV: Severe.

Surgery Options

Doctors will usually recommend surgery when cataracts begin to adversely impact daily life. During surgery, the old lens will be removed and a new, artificial lens will replace it. And because the intraocular lens is artificial, it can be modified to correct your vision! According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are five types of intraocular lenses available. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see which ones are covered under your plan and ask your eye-car professional what the out-of-pocket costs are for the ones that are not covered by insurance.

Here are the lens types:

  • Monofocal: This is the most popular replacement lens. It has a fixed distance, either near or far. If you choose far, then you will still need reading glasses. Sometimes people are able to get one of each (if both eyes have cataracts). If you think this might work for you, test it out with contact lenses first.
  • Multifocal: This lens has multiple zones, much like bifocals or trifocal glasses do. Some can also correct intermediate vision as well.
  • Extended Depth-of-Focus: Like the multifocal lens mentioned above, this lens is also presbyopia-correcting. However, there’s only one zone, but it’s stretched across the lens to allow for distance and intermediate vision correction.
  • Accommodative: This lens corrects all vision at all distances (near, intermediate, and far). The lens uses the natural movements of the eye to make vision adjustments.
  • Toric: There is an extra built-in layer on this lens to correct astigmatism.

If you’re one of the four million Americans who are getting surgery to correct cataracts, make sure to discuss all of your lens options with your eye doctor and check the costs associated with them with your insurance carrier!