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Traumatic Cataract Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Robert H Graham, MD; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 15, 2016


Note the following:

  • Mechanism of injury - Sharp versus blunt
  • Past ocular history - Previous eye surgery, glaucoma, retinal detachment, diabetic eye disease
  • Past medical history - Diabetes, sickle cell, Marfan syndrome, homocystinuria, hyperlysinemia, sulfate oxidase deficiency
  • Visual complaints - Decreased vision (cataract, lens subluxation, lens dislocation, ruptured globe, traumatic optic neuropathy, vitreous hemorrhage, retinal detachment); monocular diplopia (lens subluxation with partial phakic and aphakic vision); binocular diplopia (traumatic nerve palsy, orbital fracture); pain (glaucoma secondary to hyphema, pupillary block, or lens particles; retrobulbar hemorrhage; iritis)


Complete ophthalmic examination (defer in case of globe compromise), to include the following:

  • Vision and pupils - Presence of afferent pupillary defect (APD) indicative of traumatic optic neuropathy
  • Extraocular motility - Orbital fractures or traumatic nerve palsy
  • Intraocular pressure - Secondary glaucoma, retrobulbar hemorrhage
  • Anterior chamber - Hyphema, iritis, shallow chamber, iridodonesis, angle recession
  • Lens - Subluxation, dislocation, capsular integrity (anterior and posterior), cataract (extent and type), swelling, phacodonesis
  • Vitreous - Presence or absence of hemorrhage, posterior vitreous detachment
  • Fundus - Retinal detachment, choroidal rupture, commotio retinae, preretinal hemorrhage, intraretinal hemorrhage, subretinal hemorrhage, optic nerve pallor, optic nerve avulsion


Traumatic cataracts occur secondary to blunt or penetrating ocular trauma.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert H Graham, MD Consultant, Department of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona

Robert H Graham, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Arizona Ophthalmological Society, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Partner received salary from Medscape/WebMD for employment.


Brian C Mulrooney, MD Private Practice, Ophthalmology, Crestwood Hospital

Brian C Mulrooney, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Glaucoma Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

J James Rowsey, MD Former Director of Corneal Services, St Luke's Cataract and Laser Institute

J James Rowsey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Florida Medical Association, Sigma Xi, Southern Medical Association, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Richard W Allinson, MD Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center; Senior Staff Ophthalmologist, Scott and White Clinic

Richard W Allinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Classic rosette-shaped cataract in a 36-year-old man, 4 weeks after blunt ocular injury.
Same cataract as seen in previous image, viewed by retroillumination.
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