Glaucoma vs Cataracts

Featured Image

Most people will eventually experience some degree of vision loss as the eyes change and weaken with age. Eye diseases also become more with advanced age. In fact, cataracts and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness among those aged 65 and older.

While glaucoma and cataracts both impact the vision, they are two markedly different conditions. The experienced eye doctors are Wicker Park Eye Center helps individuals in the Chicago, IL, area understand the differences between glaucoma and cataracts. We will also highlight the treatments that address these diseases and allow people to preserve their eyesight.

How Glaucoma Affects the Eyes

Glaucoma is an eye disease that is involves increased pressure within the eye. Inner eye pressure increases when aqueous humor (fluids that flow within the eye) builds up. Fluids may be overproduced, or the eyes may fail to drain them properly. In either case, increased eye pressure places excess force on the optic nerves.

Without intervention, pressure will gradually damage the optic nerves and compromise a person’s vision. Glaucoma can eventually lead to total blindness.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Like many other eye diseases, symptoms of glaucoma may not be immediately obvious. However, as the condition becomes more advanced, patients will likely notice subtle changes. Some symptoms directly affect the vision, while others may not be easily associated with an eye condition.

Potential symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Eye redness or pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos or glares around light sources
  • Patchy blind spots
  • Tunnel vision

If you develop any of the symptoms above, it’s important to visit our Chicago eye center for an examination.

Treating Glaucoma

There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are many treatments that manage the condition and prevent further damage or vision loss. The treatment that is appropriate for each patient will depend on how far glaucoma has progressed.

Treatment options for glaucoma include:

  • Medicated eye drops
  • Placement of an iStent (to promote proper drainage)
  • Laser treatment
  • Nutritional lifestyle changes (as a complement to medical treatment)

How Cataracts Affect the Eyes

Cataracts are characterized by a buildup of proteins in the lens of the eye. Proteins bunch up and make the normally clear lens foggy or cloudy.

As with glaucoma, cataracts usually develop slowly. Initially, they are unlikely to have any impact on the vision. Without treatment, cataracts can cause significant impairment and eventually complete vision loss.

Symptoms of Cataracts

Like glaucoma symptoms, cataract symptoms usually develop gradually. Cataract symptoms directly affect a person’s vision, but the specific symptoms experienced the severity of those symptoms can vary.

The most common cataract symptoms include:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision (like looking through fog or a frosted window)
  • Difficulty distinguishing details
  • Compromised night vision
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Halos or glares around light sources

If you develop any of the symptoms above, it’s important to visit our Chicago eye care center for an exam.

Cataracts' Prognosis

When cataracts are in their early stages, they are managed by prescription lenses. As cataracts progress, patients may need to increase their vision prescription several times to maintain clear eyesight. When prescription lenses can no longer manage cataracts, the only treatment option is surgery.

During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is completely removed. It is replaced with an intraocular lens, or IOL, which is essentially a permanent contact lens. The IOL restores clearer vision, leaving patients much less reliant on glasses.

Contact Our Eye Center

If you suspect that you are suffering from glaucoma or cataracts, the only way to get an accurate diagnosis is with a comprehensive eye exam. To schedule an exam at Wicker Park Eye Center, contact our practice or schedule an appointment online.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.