Don’t Let The World Fade Away

Glaucoma and cataracts are two of the most common eye diseases in the world today. Both conditions can eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. While vision loss from cataracts is typically reversible, any sight lost from glaucoma is permanent.

Same, but different

The term glaucoma refers to a series of diseases pertaining to an increase in pressure in the eye. When the fluid in the front part of the eye is unable to drain, pressure begins to build within. The ocular tension pushes outward, pinching the nerves that send data to the brain in the process. Those nerves begin to die, eroding peripheral vision before moving inward.

Cataracts form in the eye’s natural lens. Much like a camera, the eye uses this lens to project a clear image onto an ocular screen. Cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy, preventing light from passing through to the other side. As a cataract worsens, vision continues to deteriorate.

Thanks, can I have another?

As the two diseases affect different parts of the eye, an individual can have both simultaneously. Many common risk factors such as age and diabetes can lead to either condition. Patients in either category should schedule regular exams to check for either one. There are many overlapping symptoms for glaucoma and cataracts that a healthcare specialist will need to monitor.

The pressure isn’t enough

Even though these two conditions share many similarities, glaucoma is very unlikely to cause cataracts. An increase in ocular tension does not typically affect the lens. Even so, there are glaucoma treatments that can cause or worsen cataract formation.

Don’t drop out

Some eyedrops, particularly those to treat inflammation, can lead to cataracts in the affected eye. Glaucoma drops don’t have this same effect but can cause the pupil to dilate in an attempt to relieve pressure. A larger pupil can lead to even more discomfort from glare for patients already with cataracts.

The pros and cons of surgery

If pressures exceed a certain threshold, a surgeon may feel surgery is the only way to keep tension under control. These procedures usually involve creating a new drainage path or adding a tube shunt to reopen a closed pathway. In either case, these surgical treatments can increase the rate that cataracts grow.

Hitting two diseases with one scalpel

For individuals dealing with both diseases, a physician may still suggest performing a surgical procedure. At times, surgery can both create new drainage pathways and remove a cataract at the same time. Even when undergoing cataract surgery alone, removing the large lens can be beneficial in bringing pressures down. At the end of the day, only an ophthalmologist has the know-how to diagnose and treat these conditions.