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How to Grade Cataracts

By Katlyn Joy ; Updated July 27, 2017

Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye, and they are a common age-related sight disorder. Clumps of protein form and distort or block light, and the result is like looking through a waterfall. In fact, "cataract" derives from foreign words meaning "waterfall." The only treatment for cataracts is surgery, but it depends on a number of factors, and grading the severity of a cataract is one of the considerations.

How to Grade Cataracts

  1. Visit an eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, bringing with you a list of medications and overview of your medical history. Certain health problems, including diabetes and hypertension, can cause or exacerbate eye conditions such as cataracts.

  2. Allow the doctor to perform a visual acuity test and dilate your pupils, then examine your eyes to look for signs of cataracts or other issues.

  3. Learn the American Optometric Association's grading system for cataracts, which is simplified here: Grade 1: The lens has mild yellowing, 10 percent of pupil obscured by cataract, 3 percent of back surface of lens obscured by cataract. Grade 2: The lens has moderate yellowing, 10 percent to 50 percent of pupil obscured by cataract, 30 percent of back surface of lens obscured by cataract. Grade 3: Pronounced yellowing of lens, 50 percent to 90 percent of pupil obscured by cataract, 50 percent of back surface of lens obscured by cataract. Grade 4: Severe yellowing of lens, more than 90 percent of pupil obscured by cataract, more than 50 percent of back surface of lens obscured by cataract.

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