Most cataracts now days are white or grayish in color because our diets have very little free iron (when was the last time you cooked in a cast iron pan or skillet?). These cataracts react to light like “diamond dust particles” or “driving in the fog with your high beams on”. Most patients with these kind of cataracts have progressive complaints about oncoming headlights when driving, photosensitive, room lights, etc. The patient will decide when they bother them enough to get them out.
Brownish colored used to be the common cataract until the last about 15 years. They generally are not bothered by head lights or bright lights and can become amazingly densely brown and the patient see amazingly well. Because they are like a very dark pair of sunglasses, the patient needs more and more light to see well—hence the 100, 200, 300 watt light bulbs were designed for them (those are the last thing the patient with white cataract wishes to see!). These are generally the slowest growing of the kinds of cataracts.
These cataracts deposit a progressively thickening layer of calcium crystals inside the back capsule of the lens which is usually in the center of the lens. These calcium crystals act like diamond dust crystals and the vision also becomes like looking through a “frosted glass window”. These tend to grow very fast and cause the most difficulty in vision of all the types. Usually the patient will insist on having them out in 4 to 24 months after they are first noticed. They usually cause significant trouble driving as well as reading. These are the safest and easiest cataracts to remove.
Direct blows to the eyes or sometimes just severe head trauma can interfere with the lens biology and cause the lens to become opaque. They can be any of the above types.
Inflammation, blood in eye, intraocular eye surgery, medications, radiation:
These problems and occurrences can alter the lens’s physiology and can result in cataracts