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The Accurate Distinctions Between Glaucoma & Cataract
Last Reviewed: January 16, 2020
So why did people think they are the same? Why did people confuse them for such a long time? Here are all the most popular client questions we answered over the years.
The Questions Answered In This Article:
What Is Glaucoma and Cataracts?
Both are eye diseases, not merely refractive errors, like myopia or farsightedness. Glaucoma and cataracts are severe conditions. Both can cause the loss of vision. Glaucoma is a slow progressing eye disease. Vision loss sets in gradually without warning. The loss of vision is due to damage to the optic nerve.
So glaucoma and cataract are different. Because cataracts is an eye disease in the lens. The lens calcifies. That clouds the lens over time. It blocks light from entering the eye affecting the vision.
What Is the Difference between Glaucoma and Cataracts?
Glaucoma happens inside the eye. There is excess fluid in the eyeball. The eyes lose the ability to drain the fluids. The drainage channels cog up. That increased pressure causes the eye nerve to break down. As the fibers of the optic nerve break down the loss of vision starts.
Cataract is a problem with the lens. The lens calcifies. Meaning it turns gray and cloudy. Over time it becomes so milky that light can't enter correctly. So the loss of vision comes from a blocked lens.
Is Glaucoma and Cataracts the Same Thing?
No! Both are dangerous eye conditions. But they have different root causes. Even though patients with both diseases will lose their vision, it's for different reasons. Also, patients have different symptoms.
Glaucoma is a disease inside the eyeball. The eye pressure is too high. Cataract is a condition of the lens.
Can You Have Glaucoma and Cataracts?
Sure, they are not exclusive. But they are also not inclusive. So just because you have one doesn't mean you get the other. The problem with one causing the other is surgery.
Cataract lens replacement surgery can cause glaucoma. Because it can cause injury to the eye. Other than that the conditions can coexist. But they don't have to coexist.
What Causes Glaucoma and Cataracts?
As any ophthalmologist will tell you, with all types of glaucoma is a pressure build-up inside the eyeball. The fluids can't flow out the way they should. In a normal eye, the eye produces continuously produces liquid. When the eye is healthy, the excess fluid can flow out. With glaucoma, the drainage channels clog up.
So the blocked channels don't allow the excess fluids to drain. That increases the pressure inside the eyeballs. That's the intraocular pressure measured in a glaucoma test. Over time that pressure erodes the optic nerve. The nerve fibers of the optic nerve break down. That causes loss of vision. The breakdown can ultimately lead to blindness.
In cataracts, there is excess protein build-up in the lens. The excess protein causes a cloudy lens. The cloudier the lens gets, the less a patient can see. The loss of vision is due to a cloudy lens.
The big difference is that you can exchange a cloudy lens. You can replace it with an artificial one. But when the optic nerve breaks down, that's it. There is no known way to restore the nerve fibers.
How Are Cataracts and Glaucoma Treated?
The medical approach to treating glaucoma includes:
All these medical procedures only treat the symptoms of glaucoma or cataract only. They provide temporary eye pressure relief from too much pressure. But the pressure increases again after a short period of time. Because none of these glaucoma treatments get rid of the glaucoma causes.
The medical approach for cataract is lens replacement surgery. If you have both conditions, you can do both surgeries at once. Cataract surgery carries the risk to cause glaucoma as well.
In both cases, the medical approach doesn't treat the root causes. That means the same root causes still cause eye health damage. It means that even after glaucoma treatment, the eye pressure will keep coming back.
With cataract, it means that the lens calcification will move somewhere else. To get rid of the cause for both conditions, get your free, custom, glaucoma assessment with a personal treatment plan. You'll learn exactly how to remove the root causes. It'll allow to can enjoy your vision, health, and energy into old age.
How Do the Diseases Glaucoma and Cataracts Affect Eyes?
Glaucoma breaks down the optic nerve fibers. That more the nerve breaks down, the more vision loss occurs. Cataract affects the lens. The lens becomes cloudy until no light can get through.
Does Glaucoma Cause Cataracts?
No. The disease can coexist. But glaucoma doesn't cause cataract. The only way one causes the other is a side-effect of surgery. Cataract surgery can cause glaucoma.