Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Lens hardness in mature cataracts


A cataract is said to be mature when all the cortical fibres become opaque. Depending on the pathophysiological processes that cause the cortical fibre opacification this phenomenon may be associated with a varying degree of nuclear sclerosis. A relationship between lens hardness and degree of nuclear sclerosis in non-mature cataracts has been demonstrated previously. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between the hardness of mature cataracts and the transmitted nuclear colour, age and rate of progression of the cataract. Thirty-eight patients with mature cataracts were assessed prior to extracapsular cataract surgery. The nuclear colour that was transmitted through the opaque cortex was graded using reference photographs. Age and duration of visual symptoms were recorded and lens hardness was measured by a specially designed lens guillotine. Multivariate analysis of data indicates a relationship between hardness of a mature cataract and the transmitted nuclear colour and age (adjusted R2 = 0.59). There is also a tendency for hardening of the lens as the duration of visual symptoms increases. By considering these clinical markers, the cataract surgeon can estimate the hardness of the lens and therefore its suitability for phacoemulsification.


  1. 1

    Heyworth P, Thompson GM, Tabandeh H, McGuigan S . Relationship between clinical classification of cataract and its hardness. Eye 1993; 7: 726–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tabandeh H, Thompson GM, Heyworth P, Dorey S, Woods AJ, Lynch D . Water content, lens hardness and cataract appearance. Eye 1994; 8: 125–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Pau H, Kranz J . The increasing sclerosis of the human lens with age and its relevance to accommodation and presbyopia. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 1991; 229: 294–6.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Nordmann J, Mack G, Mack G . Nucleus of the human lens. Ophthalmic Res 1974; 6: 216–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Fisher F . The elastic constants of the human lens. J Physiol (Lond) 1971; 212: 147–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Pirie A . Colour and solubility of the proteins of human cataracts. Invest Ophthalmol 1968; 7: 634–50.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Zigman S . Eye lens colour: formation and function. Science 1971; 171: 807–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Hum TP, Augusteyn RC . The nature of disulphide bonds in rat lens proteins. Curr Eye Res 1987; 6: 1103–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to H Tabandeh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tabandeh, H., Thompson, G. & Heyworth, P. Lens hardness in mature cataracts. Eye 8, 453–455 (1994).

Download citation


  • Age
  • Duration of cataract
  • Lens hardness
  • Mature cataract
  • Nuclear colour

Further reading


Quick links