Posterior subcapsular cataract

Posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC)

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

A posterior subcapsular cataract is a form of opacity that affects the back side of the eye's lens. Primarily affecting one's reading and night vision, a posterior subcapsular cataract usually accompanies age-related lens degeneration, but may affect anyone of any age.

The eye's lens functions as the main channel through which light is transmitted to form retinal images. With time, or injury, the lens can lose its flexibility, causing the light that passes through it to fracture and split. The progressive loss of tone leads to a clouding and thickening of the lens that further distorts and dims the images one sees.

Usually, a history of farsightedness precipitates the onset of posterior subcapsular cataract formation. Individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are considered to possess an increased risk for subcapsular cataracts. Activities that adversely affect arterial health and elevate blood pressure, such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, may also place one at risk for subcapsular cataracts. Additional factors that may play a role in subcapsular cataract development include eye trauma, long-term steroidal medication use, and radiation exposure.

Hypertension has been reported as a risk factor for formation of age-related nuclear cataract and mixed types of cataracts. Other studies, however, did not find any association of hypertension and senile cataract. Diabetic individual are at higher risk of posterior subcapsular cataract and senile, cortical, and mixed types of cataracts. About 50% of diabetic persons were reported to have cataract that varied with age. High prevalence was found in type II diabetes mellitus than in type I diabetes mellitus. An important relationship was reported between abnormal results of the glucose tolerance test (GTT) and senile cataract.


People with a subcapsular cataract may initially notice that colors appear muted and images become increasingly blurred. Nighttime driving often becomes difficult due to the prevalence of halos that surround artificial sources of light, such as headlights. With time, one's ability to read materials at arm's length becomes challenging. The progression of one's posterior subcapsular cataract symptoms is generally monitored for pronounced changes to his or her vision.


Diagnosing a posterior subcapsular cataract initially involves a standard eye examination to measure Visual acuity. An ophthalmologist will ask the individual to read from a Standardized vision chart to detect any visual impairment. Dilation and magnification may also be used to examine the inner eye and evaluate any anomalies that may be present, such as cataract-related fogging of the lens.


Eventually, surgery becomes necessary to correct a posterior subcapsular cataract. When the cataract matures to significantly threaten one's sight, outpatient cataract surgery is usually performed. During the procedure, an ophthalmologist will excise or destruct the opaque lens and position an artificial one in its place. Individuals are usually able to resume normal, everyday activities within a few days without restriction. Though the risk for retinal detachment is of most concern, additional risks can include infection and secondary cataract formation.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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