Lens epithelial cell density and histomorphological study in cataractous lenses

J Cataract Refract Surg. 1991 Nov;17(6):798-804. doi: 10.1016/s0886-3350(13)80415-4.


Human epithelial cell density was determined from flat preparation of 195 cataractous lenses from 108 males and 87 females between 30 and 80 years of age. The mature cataracts had significantly lower cell counts than the other cataracts. Cell density was significantly higher in the females than in the males. Morphohistological study of the epithelia was focused on the following cataract types: (1) nuclear, (2) posterior subcapsular, (3) mature, (4) mixed, (5) hypermature, and (6) black. The major cataractous changes in all types involved vacuolization of the cytoplasm. The mature types of cataractous epithelia showed 56% superimposed cells; the epithelia in nuclear, posterior subcapsular, and black cataracts showed between 6% and 16%. In the hypermature cataracts, four of five tissues analyzed showed superimposed cells. The superimposed areas are probably the source of increased and altered cell activity. We propose that the metaplastic processes leading to posterior capsular opacification originate from these areas. The majority of nuclear and black cataracts were almost similar to the normal human lens epithelium with more or less uniform distribution of cells. Nucleus shrinkage (5 microns) was more evident in nuclear cataracts; in subcapsular cataracts most of the nuclei were large (average 9 microns diameter). Variation in morphological changes like vacuolization of cytoplasm and nuclei, pyknotic nuclei, and superimposed cells was more evident in the mixed type of cataracts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cataract / pathology*
  • Cell Count
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lens Capsule, Crystalline / pathology*
  • Lens Nucleus, Crystalline / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors