July 24, 2024

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Cataracts vs Glaucoma: Expert Shares Differences Between The Two Eye Conditions

3 min read
Cataracts vs Glaucoma: Expert Shares Differences Between The Two Eye Conditions

Cataracts vs Glaucoma: Expert Shares Differences Between The Two Eye Conditions (Image Credits: iStock)

Cataracts and Glaucoma, two leading causes of vision impairment and blindness, are increasingly prevalent worldwide. An ageing global population and rising life expectancy contribute to the surge in these eye conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness globally, affecting over 65 million people. In the United States alone, the National Eye Institute estimates that by 2050, the number of people with cataracts will double from 24.4 million to 50 million. Similarly, glaucoma affects over 76 million people worldwide, a number projected to exceed 111 million by 2040. Hence, maintaining eye health is essential to overall health and quality of life. But how to differentiate between the two? We got in touch with a health expert who explains the difference between cataracts and glaucoma, along with its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev (Padma Shree Awardee), Chairman and Managing Director, Center for Sight, New Delhi shares that cataracts and glaucoma are two prevalent eye disorders. Though they both affect eye health, they are not the same in terms of causes, symptoms and treatment.

What Are Cataracts And Its Causes?

Dr Mahipal explains that when the natural lens of the eye, which is located behind the iris and pupil, becomes clouded, it is known as a cataract. This disorder arises from clusters of proteins in the lens that result in opaque regions that obstruct vision. Age, trauma, or secondary factors including diabetes, high UV radiation exposure, smoking, and long-term corticosteroid usage can all lead to cataract development.

Cataract Symptoms

Dr Mahipal shares that cataracts usually develop slowly, with symptoms getting worse over time. Typical signs and symptoms include:

1. Blurry or hazy vision

2. Having trouble seeing at night

3. Exposure to brightness and light

4. Halos surrounding lights

5. Colour fading or yellowing

6. Seeing twice with one eye

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Cataract

Dr Mahipal explains a thorough eye examination is necessary to diagnose cataracts, and this examination may involve a retinal exam, slit-lamp examination, and visual acuity test. Surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is the main treatment for cataracts.

What Is Glaucoma And Its Causes?

Dr Mahipal shares that excessively high intraocular pressure (IOP) is frequently the cause of glaucoma, a set of eye conditions that harm the visual nerve. The transmission of visual information from the eye to the brain depends on the optic nerve. The most prevalent type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, whereas angle-closure glaucoma is the other main type. Age, heredity, and certain medical problems like diabetes and hypertension are among the factors that might cause glaucoma.

Glaucoma Symptoms

Dr Mahipal explains, that depending on the kind and stage of the condition, glaucoma shows various signs and symptoms, as open-angle glaucoma progresses slowly and frequently shows no symptoms. First, routine eye examinations are essential. Symptoms could include:

1. Gradual blindness in the outer edges

2. Advanced stages of tunnel vision

3. Severe eye pain

4. Nausea and vomiting

5. Sudden onset of visual disturbances

6. Blurred vision

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Glaucoma

Dr Mahipal shares that to treat glaucoma, a variety of examinations are used, such as visual field assessments to look for peripheral vision loss, ophthalmoscopy to examine the optic nerve, and tonometry to quantify IOP. To stop more damage to the optic nerve, the goal of treatment is to lower IOP. This can be done with medicine (eye drops), laser therapy, or surgery. Since glaucoma-related visual loss cannot be reversed, unlike cataracts, early detection and treatment are crucial.

“With surgery, eyesight can be restored in cases where cataracts, a physical clouding of the lens, cause a gradual loss of vision. Untreated glaucoma can result in permanent vision loss as it is a progressive optic neuropathy that is frequently associated with elevated intraocular pressure,” he further explains.

Prevention Tips For Eye Illnesses

– Annual eye examinations are one of the preventive methods for these illnesses, particularly for people who are older or have risk factors.

– Preventing cataracts and glaucoma can be achieved through shielding the eyes from UV light, eating a balanced diet high in antioxidants, controlling long-term health issues including diabetes, and quitting smoking.

– For those who are impacted by these illnesses, maintaining eye health and preserving vision depends on awareness, early detection, and appropriate treatment.

– Both cataracts and glaucoma can be prevented and managed with regular eye exams and a healthy lifestyle.


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