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Nuclear Sclerosis or Cataracts. Which is it?

Nuclear sclerosis and cataracts commonly occur as age-related changes in the lense of dogs and cats. While both conditions can cause changes in vision, they have distinct
clinical features that can be identified through examination.

1. Appearance:
– Nuclear sclerosis presents as a bluish-gray haze primarily in the center of the lens, while
cataracts appear as opacities or cloudiness that can vary in density and location.

2. Location:                                                                                                                                                                                                   – Nuclear sclerosis primarily affects the nucleus of the lens, whereas cataracts can affect
any part of the lens, including the nucleus, cortex, or capsule.

3. Progression:
– Nuclear sclerosis typically develops slowly over time as part of the aging process,
whereas cataracts can develop rapidly or slowly, depending on the underlying cause.

4. Visual Impairment:
– While both conditions can cause visual impairment, nuclear sclerosis generally leads to
mild to moderate impairment, whereas cataracts can cause mild to severe impairment,
depending on their size and location.

5. Treatment:
– Nuclear sclerosis usually does not require treatment unless it significantly affects vision
or causes discomfort. In contrast, cataracts may require surgical removal if they impair vision
or lead to other complications.

While both nuclear sclerosis and cataracts can cause changes in vision, they have distinct
clinical features that can be identified through ophthalmic examination. Understanding these differences is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.


The following images exhibit nuclear sclerosis and cataracts in various stages of
development. Match the image with the condition causing a hazy lens

 1. Late immature cataract

2. Immature cataract

3. Hypermature cataract

4. Mature cataract

5. Nuclear sclerosis




A. Nuclear sclerosis. Note the spherical, opalescent haze
to the central nucleus of the lens. The tapetal reflection is
not obscured by nuclear sclerosis.

B. Late immature cataract. Note the mostly opaque, white
haze to the lens. However, tapetal reflection is still visible
at the periphery of this cataract.

C. Immature cataract. Note the diffuse haze to the lens
just beyond the central nucleus. The tapetal reflection is
partially obscured by this cataract, which is most obvious
along the Y-shaped suture lines.

D. Mature cataract. This cataract type is completely
opaque and totally obscures the tapetal reflection.

E. Hypermature cataract. Note the characteristic sparkling
appearance with multiple areas of increased cataract

Images: cliniciansbrief.com February 2016