Lens opacities in 98 eyes from 63 consecutive outpatients with cataract were recorded by both retroillumination and Scheimpflug slit methods by one operator. This was repeated at 26 +/- 1 weeks. Image analysis used the EAS-1000 software. Cortical and posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataracts were measured in retroillumination images as density more than 14 cct units below background density. Linear densitometry of white scattered light along the optical axis was measured for slit images by both peak density and mean density ('area under the curve'). Retroillumination images showed no discernible change over 6 months (the regression coefficient being as for the intersession reliability). Half of the Scheimpflug slit images could not be analysed because overlying cortical changes masked the more posterior parts of the lens. The other 49 eyes showed a significant increase in nuclear white scatter after 6 months, with greater degrees of change occurring in those eyes with the greatest amount of nuclear cataract initially. This is reflected by the decreased intraclass correlation coefficient (R = 0.42). The area of lens showing greatest change was the anterior fetal nucleus. The Nidek EAS-1000 is able to detect changes over a 6-month period in nuclear density but not in cortical or PSC cataract. The rate of progression of nuclear white scatter increases as the lens opacity becomes more dense. The ability to detect change in cataract over 6 months has implications for epidemiological studies and for trials of anti-cataract drugs.