What Can Cataracts And Glaucoma Do, Anyway?
Cataracts and glaucoma are both diseases of the eye that can lead to a loss of vision. Cataracts form from the hardening of the eye’s natural lens, preventing light from reaching the back of the eye. This often results in blurry sight that lacks both contrast and color. Glaucoma, on the other hand, is an increase in pressure inside the eye. This elevated pressure causes damage to the optic nerve that sends images to the brain.
They certainly don’t look related
Both of these diseases become more common as time presses on and are often considered to be age-related. That being said, cataracts and glaucoma can happen at any time in a person’s life. Glaucoma is not known to lead to cataract formation. However, if left unchecked, cataracts will continue to grow and can put pressure on other parts of the eye. Although very rare, the increase in pressure can lead to glaucoma.
Glaucoma treatments can bring cataracts to life
While glaucoma does not increase instances of cataracts in patients, certain glaucoma treatments can accelerate cataract growth. Often, these treatments are necessary to stop glaucoma from damaging the eye. Some eye drops used to combat glaucoma have been known to play a part in cataract formation. Similarly, procedures such as tube shunts and trabeculectomies to reduce eye pressure may stimulate cataract growth.
It’s important to share
Glaucoma and cataracts are mostly unrelated, but the two diseases do have several risk factors in common. Overlapping areas of concern include the following:
- Increased age
- High blood pressure
- Injury to the eye
- Long-term steroid use
Patients with any of these conditions should see an eye doctor regularly to ensure the eye is staying healthy.
Can you have cataracts and glaucoma at the same time?
Since cataracts and glaucoma have many common risk factors, individuals can experience both diseases simultaneously in the same eye. Each disease has unique symptoms and side effects and must be addressed differently. Glaucoma can sometimes be kept at bay with eye drops, but no medications can treat cataracts at this time.
Which disease causes the most trouble?
These two diseases are some of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Damage caused by glaucoma is irreparable at this time, and ophthalmologists will typically make this a priority. Cataracts can lead to blindness if allowed to grow, but even the worst cataracts rarely lead to permanent issues.
Two procedures can be better than one
When surgery is the best option to treat these diseases, a surgeon will determine the best course of action. Patients with both cataracts and glaucoma may be able to have both conditions addressed at the same time. The two procedures are different but can be performed together to remove a cloudy lens and reduce eye pressure. Whether separate or combined, an eye specialist will monitor eye pressure after surgery to reduce the likelihood of spikes.