Cataracts vs. Glaucoma: Comparing Vision Loss Conditions

September 30, 2018 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Cataracts Glaucoma

An older woman smilingVision loss can come in many different forms. Two of the most common kinds of vision loss are cataracts and glaucoma. Both glaucoma and cataracts are often associated with age-related vision loss and blindness. Modern technology and techniques allow the team at Byrd Eye Clinic to treat and manage both of these conditions.

Some of our Detroit, MI patients assume that all kinds of vision loss are the same. That is definitely not the case. Dr. Thomas Byrd and his team would like to compare cataracts and glaucoma to one another so you understand why one is much more serious than the other.

About Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the naturally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy and opaque. This can occur suddenly or gradually, causing the loss of vision in the process.

The vision loss from cataracts is treatable, meaning that eye doctors can restore vision quality thanks to proper treatment.

Causes of Cataracts

Cataracts can be caused by a wide variety of things. Some common causes include:

  • The UV rays of the sun
  • The natural aging process
  • Eye injuries
  • Use of corticosteroid

In rare instances, some babies are born with cataracts, a condition known as congenital cataracts.

Cataract Risk Factors

Cataracts are often associated with the following risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Advanced age
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Previous eye injuries
  • Previous eye surgery
  • High myopia

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

The most common signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Blurry vision
  • Dim vision
  • Problems with night vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Glare and halos
  • Frequent changes in prescription
  • Double vision in one eye

Treatments for Cataracts

The most common treatment for cataracts is a routine cataract removal procedure. The clouded lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens known as an IOL.

If the cataract is not serious enough to necessitate surgery, corrective lenses can address changes in your vision quality.

About Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) becomes too great, resulting in damage to the optic nerve. This leads to the loss of vision.

The vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible, meaning that eye doctors cannot restore vision quality once glaucoma has progressed. Treatments can slow down the rate of vision loss and preserve current vision quality, however.

Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is generally the result of too much fluid accumulation within the eye, and an inability for this fluid to drain out naturally. This could be the result of:

  • Eye injury
  • Eye infections
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Inflammatory diseases

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Glaucoma is often associated with the following risk factors:

  • Advanced age
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Sickle cell anemia

It’s been noted that glaucoma is more common in people of African or Hispanic descent.

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

The most common signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blind spots in peripheral vision
  • Blind spots in central vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos forming around lights
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Headaches

Treatments for Glaucoma

Treating glaucoma typically starts with the use of medicated eye drops that reduce intraocular pressure. If medication prove ineffective, there are surgical procedures that can help reduce the pressure within the eye and promote fluid drainage.

Early detection and treatment of glaucoma is essential to slow down vision loss and manage intraocular pressure.

Contact Dr. Thomas Byrd

To learn more about cataracts, glaucoma, and how these conditions can be treated, be sure to contact an experienced eye doctor and vision specialist. The team at Byrd Eye Clinic is here to help you. You can reach our practice by phone at (313) 383-1300.

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