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What is Nuclear Cataract?

An excessive amount of yellowing and light scattering affecting the centre of the lens is called nuclear cataract. The nuclear sclerosis is when the nucleus, i.e. the center of the eye, begins to get cloudy, yellow, and hardens. A part of the aging process in humans, nuclear sclerotic cataract also occurs in dogs, cats, and horses. When nuclear sclerosis eyes worsens, i.e. the lens becomes cloudier with age, the condition is called nuclear cataract. Further dehydration of the nucleus and the cortical part of the lens, coupled with heightened sclerosis, leads to nuclear senile cataract. 

Sometimes, a cloudy lens might be present at birth, which is called a congenital cataract. When the congenital cataract is present near the nucleus of the eye, it is called congenital nuclear cataract or fetal nuclear cataract.

Nuclear cataract symptoms

Nuclear cataract affects distance vision. Thus, anything that involves seeing things at a distance would prove difficult. Other symptoms for nuclear cataract could include:

  • Difficulty in driving, reading signboards

  • Occasional double vision

  • Difficulty reading things at a distance

  • Severe glare from lights

Nuclear cataract risk factors

While age is the predominant factor for the development of nuclear cataract, the following can also be considered as risk factors for nuclear cataract

  • Smoking

  • Increased exposure to UV light

  • Steroid use

  • Diabetes

How to diagnose a nuclear cataract?

A number of tests can help the doctor diagnose a patient with a nuclear cataract. The tests are:

  • Dilation:

    The doctor administers drops into the eye of the patient, which will dilate the retina of the eye. This opens up the eye and helps the doctor examine the interior of the eye, including the lens. 

  • Slit lamp test:

    The doctor uses a special microscope-like device with a light on it to examine different parts of the eye – the cornea, iris, and the lens, including the nucleus of the lens.

  • Red reflex test:

    The doctor bounces the light off a surface and uses a special magnifying glass to examine the eye in the reflection of this light. When the eyes are healthy, they appear red in this test.

Nuclear cataract treatment

As age advances and the nuclear cataract becomes cloudier, surgical treatment, specifically nuclear cataract surgery, is the most effective option. One can put off surgery by taking the following steps

  • Using a brighter light for reading

  • Avoid driving at night

  • Using anti-glare glasses while stepping out

However, as age progresses and the nuclear cataract becomes cloudier, surgery is the best option. In this procedure, the doctor simply replaces the hardened and cloudy lens with an artificial lens. The new lens will help dispel light without any hindrance. The procedure, which generally involves a laser, is generally quite safe and can be done in under 20 minutes. With evolved technology, nuclear cataract surgery today involves little to no complications, does not require overnight admission of the patient.

If you or someone close to you has developed Nuclear Cataract, do not put off an eye test. Walk into Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital for an appointment with top specialists and surgeons in the field of eye care. Book an appointment now for Nuclear Cataract Treatment and other Eye Treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What characterizes a nuclear cataract?

Nuclear cataract is a type of cataract that affects the center of the lens in the eye, known as the nucleus. It is characterized by the clouding or opacification of this central part of the lens.

The primary symptoms associated with nuclear cataracts include blurred or hazy vision, difficulty seeing in dim or low light conditions, increased sensitivity to glare, and a gradual fading or yellowing of colors.

Nuclear cataracts progress slowly over time, gradually causing the lens to become more opaque. Initially, it may only cause minor visual disturbances, but as it progresses, it can significantly impair vision and lead to significant visual impairment if left untreated.

Specific risk factors linked to nuclear cataracts include aging (it is most commonly seen in older individuals), exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight, smoking, certain medical conditions such as diabetes, and prolonged use of certain medications like corticosteroids.

Nuclear cataracts are distinguished from other types of cataracts based on the location of the opacification within the lens. In nuclear cataracts, the clouding occurs in the central part of the lens (nucleus), whereas in other types such as cortical or posterior subcapsular cataracts, the clouding occurs in different parts of the lens.

Once the cataract significantly affects vision and daily activities, surgery is often recommended. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore clear vision. Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital likely offers advanced surgical techniques such as phacoemulsification, which is a minimally invasive procedure commonly used for cataract removal. It’s essential to consult with an ophthalmologist at the hospital to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual needs and the severity of the cataract.


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