Our eyes, like all other body parts, become more susceptible to disease as we age. The most common vision-related problems in older adults are glaucoma and cataracts. In fact, these are two of the most common causes of vision loss in the world. However, few people understand how they differ and affect eyesight.
These are both age-related vision conditions that can seem to have similar symptoms at first. But while one can be reversed through surgery, the other must be prevented before vision loss goes too far.
Glaucoma vs. Cataracts
Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by increased pressure in the eyes. It steals away eyesight with very few or no symptoms, and once lost, vision cannot be restored. That makes early detection crucial.
There are several types of glaucoma. One common type of glaucoma is primary open angle glaucoma, which can lead to blind spots in your side vision. Angle closure glaucoma can present with sudden vision loss, headaches and pain.
A cataract is an age-related clouding of the lens of the eye. Just like with a camera, our eyes contain a lens to help you to focus on things whether they are nearby or far away. To work well, the lens must be clear. As we age, the lens of our eye gradually becomes cloudy.
This type of vision loss can be more gradual. While it can seem similar to glaucoma, patients won’t be able to tell which condition they have without a proper eye exam.
A key difference between the two conditions pertains to treatment options. Cataracts can usually be removed through cataract surgery, allowing the patient to see clearly again.
On the other hand, glaucoma symptoms can only be prevented, not reversed. Glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness. That’s why patients who notice any changes in their vision should get an eye exam right away.
What does glaucoma vision look like vs. cataracts?
Patients may not be able to notice if they have either condition. That’s why frequent eye exams are so important. Both conditions can cause blurry vision. A subtle difference is that while cataracts can lead to dull vision, patients with glaucoma can experience lack of contrast.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s possible to have both conditions at the same time. Only an experienced ophthalmologist can provide you with the correct glaucoma diagnosis for proper treatment.
What are the symptoms of cataracts and glaucoma?
Glaucoma causes patients pain and headaches from the added pressure in their eyes. They may also experience blind spots in their peripheral vision. On the other hand, a cataract causes more vision symptoms like seeing halos around lights, colors looking faded and experiencing poor night vision.
Keep in mind that everyone will develop cataracts at some point in their lifetime, because it is a normal part of aging. On the other hand, certain people are at higher risk for glaucoma. Those include people over age 40, those of African, Hispanic or Asian descent and people with a family history of glaucoma.
Does cataract surgery help glaucoma?
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world, proven to be safe, fast and effective. Thanks to advanced corrective lens technology, many patients see better after surgery than they ever did before.What many patients don’t realize is that cataract surgery can help improve glaucoma symptoms as well. That’s because cataract surgery can lower high eye pressure. This is a big relief for many patients who are often unsure whether they can have cataract surgery with glaucoma. Some patients even have cataract surgery and a type of glaucoma surgery in a combination procedure.
Cataract vs. Glaucoma at a Glance
|Risk Factors: Age, race, family history, underlying conditions like diabetes||Risk Factors: Age, smoking, previous eye injury, underlying conditions like diabetes|
Vision blind spots
Headaches and eye pain
Poor contrast in vision
Trouble seeing at night
Dull vision (fading or yellowing of colors)
Halos around lights
Frequent changes in glasses prescription
Can only be prevented through early diagnosis and treatment with eye drops, medications or surgery
Can be removed and reversed through surgery
Schedule Your Eye Exam With Jacksonville’s Best Eye Practice
Living with either of these eye conditions can be scary. Luckily, there are safe and effective treatment options available for both. At Florida Eye Specialists, our clinics are run by board-certified and fellowship-trained glaucoma specialists and ophthalmologists.
Schedule an eye exam appointment at least once a year. Our eye specialists are here to provide you excellence in eye care.
About Florida Eye Specialists
Florida Eye Specialists is one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology private practices in Northeast Florida, with offices in Fernandina Beach, Gate Parkway/295, Mandarin, Northside, Ponte Vedra Beach, Neptune Beach, Orange Park, Riverside, San Marco, Southpoint, and St. Augustine. Schedule an appointment at one of our eleven locations.