Both Cataracts and Glaucoma are degenerative eye diseases but in fact, these two conditions do not associate with each other. These both are the most common sight-threatening conditions, mostly occurring as we grow older. These can often lead to permanent loss of vision. People over 60 years of age may have both.
These conditions lead to vision loss. However, vision loss due to cataract is reversible i.e. after surgery an individual may get vision and can see normally if every other condition is okay. But vision loss due to glaucoma is yet irreversible i.e. after surgery or medication, lost vision will not come back and all we do is surgery or prescribe eye drops is to preserve remaining vision.
With the aim of providing some basic information about these both conditions, we are going to write a blog article.
What is Cataract ?
Cataract is the ocular condition in which opacity occurs in the crystalline lens and prevents the light to reach the retina thus causes clouded vision. It is reversible leading cause of blindness in the world. Cataract is progressive condition and interferes in an individual daily life and causes vision loss if left untreated.
Risk factors of Cataracts
Most commonly cataract occurs as we age older. It can be congenital also. Some other risk factors that cause cataract are :
- Ocular trauma
- Long term steroid use
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation
- Habits like smoking and alcohol consumption
- High myopia
- Previous eye surgery
- Stickler syndrome
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Chronic anterior uveitis
Symptoms of cataract includes following
- Painless and progressive blurry or foggy vision
- Glare problem
- Poor night vision
- Frequent prescription change
- Decreased ability to discern colors
- Myopia (older population)
Actually, there is no medical treatment option for this condition. Surgery is the only option. After surgery, an individual can restore his/her vision. After surgery, you should put on eye drops and follow the advice as advised by your doctor.
Learn more about Cataracts here
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which damages the optic nerve that connects eyes to the brain which is mostly caused due to elevated pressure in the eyes. Optic nerve is present at the back of the eye and helps to transfer visual information from eye to brain.
We can take it as silent thief of sight because it is a condition that develops and progresses over years without causing any noticeable symptoms. Many types of glaucoma don’t show any alarm signs. The condition is progressive that you may not even notice change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage. Glaucoma affects an individual peripheral vision.
Early detection of glaucoma will help to prevent further loss of vision. If it is left untreated, then it can result in peripheral vision loss (side vision loss). Often called as tunnel vision. Eventually, it can lead to permanent vision loss.
Mostly glaucoma relates to increased intraocular pressure. Like blood pressure, there is also eye pressure. Measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). It reflects the pressure exerted by aqueous humor. Aqueous humor is a clear fluid produced inside the eye by a structure called the ciliary body. Sometimes, due to improper drainage systems of this fluid; eye pressure increases. And eventually, raised eye pressure damages the optic nerve and increases the risk of glaucoma.
High eye pressure associates mostly with glaucoma but sometimes having normal eye pressure can also cause glaucoma. So it is very important to see an eye doctor time and again.
Unfortunately, the vision loss due to glaucoma can’t be reversed back with any treatment. All treatment is done to stop the further vision loss or simply treatment goal is to limit the progression of the disease.
Risk factors of glaucoma
Anyone can get glaucoma but mostly you are likely to get it if ;
- You are over 40 years of age
- You are African or hispanic
- Have high intraocular pressure
- are diabetic
- have family history of glaucoma
- You use steroid medication for long time
- Have had an ocular trauma or certain eye surgery
- Have thin cornea
- You have high blood pressure and heart diseases
- You are extremely nearsighted or farsighted.
Visit eye care professionals frequently and talk to your doctor about risk factors in time.
There are various types of glaucoma. Symptoms depend upon the type of glaucoma.
In Open-angle glaucoma, there are not any noticeable signs and symptoms at an early stage. As the disease progresses, in the advanced stage loss of peripheral vision occurs. So it’s very much important to see an eye doctor on a regular basis.
Angle closure glaucoma is an ocular emergency and should be treated immediately. If it is not treated, blindness can occur within a day or two days. Following are the signs and symptoms of angle closure glaucoma.
- Decreased or blurred vision
- Seeing halos around lights
- Severe eye pain
- Eye Redness
- Eyes looks hazy(infants)
- Nausea and vomiting
Actually, there is no cure for glaucoma. All treatment done is to stop further vision loss or limit the progression rate of glaucoma. Because in this condition, the lost vision with glaucoma can’t be restored.
Depending upon severity of the condition, eye doctors may prescribe eye drops, or oral medications. Similarly, laser procedures can also be done or doctors can schedule for surgery too. Sometimes a combination of any of these treatment options is applied.
Are Cataracts and Glaucoma associated?
Both conditions are part of the aging process but they do not relate with each other at all.
But in some conditions, cataracts can make glaucoma worse due to the fact that cataracts can cause the intraocular pressure to rise up. This can happen because in cataract, the crystalline lens becomes thicker. Hence, as lens thickness increases, the circulation and drainage of aqueous humour is affected. Hence, the risk of glaucoma increases.
Furthermore, most people having glaucoma are not at risk of developing cataract. But some people having glaucoma due to ocular trauma or inflammation of the eye or even frequent steroid use can develop cataracts.