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Abbreviation for:
Pediatric Symptom Checklist
peptide-sensitive channel
peripheral stem cell
Pharmaceutical Services Committee 
posterior semicircular canal
posterior subcapsular cataract
Postmarket Strategies Committee
Primary Service Co-ordinator
primary sclerosing cholangitis
primary synovial chondromatosis
primitive stem cells
prospective studies collaboration
public sector comparator
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


(kat'a-rakt?) [L. catar(r)acta, fr Gr. katarraktes, waterfall]
Enlarge picture
CATARACT: (Courtesy of Christine Chung, MD)
An opacity of the lens of the eye, usually occurring as a result of aging, trauma, endocrine or metabolic disease, intraocular disease, or as a side effect of the use of tobacco or certain medications, e.g., steroids. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in adults. See: illustration; visual field for illus.


At first, vision is distorted, particularly during night driving or in very bright light, causing light sensitivity (photophobia). As the cataract progresses, severe visual impairment develops.


Ninety percent of adults over 65 have cataracts.


Removal of the lens is the only effective treatment. In the U.S. about a million cataract surgeries are performed annually, usually as an outpatient, same-day procedure. Typically, the lens and its anterior capsule are removed by extracapsular extraction or by phacoemulsification, leaving the posterior capsule of the lens in place, and a posterior chamber intraocular lens is inserted where the patient’s own lens used to be. See: extracapsular extraction; intraocular lens; phacoemulsification

Patient care

Preoperative: The procedure is explained to the patient. An antiseptic facial scrub is performed. Mydriatic and cycloplegic eye drops are instilled to dilate the pupil, followed by lidocaine jelly and betadine drops prior to surgery; osmotic diuretics may be given to reduce intraocular pressure. An intravenous access is initiated, and antibiotics, a sedative, short-acting general anesthetic, and a local anesthetic are provided.

Postoperative: The patient is instructed to wear a clear eyeshield if prescribed, and to call if experiencing pain, or loss of vision. Blurred vision the day of surgery is to be expected. Eye drops are to be placed as directed and the patient should not swim or strain himself. A postoperative checkup visit is scheduled for the day following surgery. Both patient and family are taught how to inspect the eye for redness or watering and to report these conditions as well as any photophobia or sudden visual changes; wash hands well and then to instill eye drops (antibiotic to prevent inflammation and steroids to reduce infection) as prescribed; and to maintain the eye patch and shield as prescribed by the surgeon. The patient should be taught to protect the eye from bright sunlight or glare by wearing dark glasses. The patient should not swim or strain himself or herself.

capsular cataract

A cataract occurring in the capsule of the ocular lens.

cortical cataract

A cataract that develops in the cortex of the lens. It has a spiky or spoked appearance on physical examination of the eye.

hypermature cataract

A cataract in which the lens solidifies and shrinks. This stage follows the mature stage.

immature cataract

An early cataract, too poorly developed to require therapy.

lenticular cataract

A cataract occurring in the lens.

mature cataract

Sufficiently dense changes in the anterior cortex of the lens to prevent the examiner from viewing the posterior portion of the lens and the posterior portion of the eye; that is, the entire lens is opaque and ophthalmoscopic examination of the eye past the lens is not possible.

morgagnian cataract

See: Morgagni cataract

nuclear cataract

, nuclear sclerotic c.
A cataract in which the central portion of the lens is opacified.

posterior cortical cataract

Posterior subcapsular cataract.

posterior subcortical cataract

Posterior subcapsular cataract.

posterior subcapsular cataract

Abbreviation: PSC
A cataract between the posterior capsule and cortex. It is more common in younger patients, diabetics, and patients who use steroids. It tends to diminish near vision before it affects distance vision.
Synonym: posterior subcortical cataract; posterior cortical cataract

radiation cataract

A cataract caused by exposure to radiation, esp. from sunlight.

senile cataract

A cataract occurring in an older person.

zonular cataract

A cataract with opacity limited to certain layers of the lens.

posterior subcapsular cataract

Abbreviation: PSC
A cataract between the posterior capsule and cortex. It is more common in younger patients, diabetics, and patients who use steroids. It tends to diminish near vision before it affects distance vision.
Synonym: posterior subcortical cataract; posterior cortical cataract
See also: cataract
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
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