Glaucoma and cataracts are two eye conditions associated with age. Individuals who develop glaucoma as they age may also develop cataracts. One misconception may be that glaucoma patients who also have cataracts may not benefit from cataract surgery, but this is not the case.
Replacement of the clouded lens of the eye due to cataracts can improve vision, even if glaucoma is present. It is not uncommon for a glaucoma patient to undergo surgery for cataracts. A patient may undergo cataract surgery when the cataract interferes with their normal vision. It is however, important to understand that cataract surgery is not a treatment for glaucoma and treatment for glaucoma cannot improve vision due to cataracts.
What is glaucoma? It is a condition in which the fluid in the eye does not flow normally resulting from high pressure inside the eye. If the pressure is not regulated, loss of vision may occur. Treatment for glaucoma typically consists of prescribed medicated eye drops to control the pressure within the eye. In severe cases, laser trabeculoplasty may be performed to open drainage holes in the eye allowing the fluid to flow more freely to reduce the high pressure. This procedure could eliminate the need for eye drops.
What is a cataract? A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. It is not a growth or film that can be removed. Cataracts can gradually decrease vision in the eye. To restore vision loss caused by cataracts, the natural lens of the eye may be removed through cataract surgery and replaced with a clear plastic lens implant.
Glaucoma and cataracts are two very different eye conditions. However, the two conditions do have a few similarities. Both can be associated with age. Additionally, both conditions can progress with time, resulting in near total or total vision loss if not properly treated. The earlier each condition is treated, the better the patient’s chances of positive results.
Stay tuned for some exciting news for glaucoma patients who are undergoing cataract surgery. Dr. Whitman and his team are currently evaluating a technology advancement designed to perhaps reduce the dependence on drops or multiple drops to lower eye pressure.
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