Difference Between Glaucoma and Cataract (Video) (2023)

Glaucoma and cataracts are degenerative eye diseases that are a natural part of the aging process and can lead to permanent vision loss.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve (a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the retina to the brain). This damage is caused by increased intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye, resulting in permanent loss of peripheral vision.

A cataract is a clouding or clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to gradual, painless opacification and eventual loss of vision.

Glaucoma- Eye disease that damages the optic nerve, caused by increased intraocular pressure (IOP), resulting in permanent loss of peripheral vision.

First, let's look at glaucoma.

In a normally healthy eye, the clear fluid that fills the anterior chamber flows in and out to continuously nourish the surrounding tissues. This fluid exits the chamber through the trabecular meshwork, which is like a drain where the iris and cornea meet.

In open-angle glaucoma, there is a wide, open angle between the iris and the cornea. Fluid flows very slowly down the drain and the drain canal slowly becomes clogged, leading to increased pressure in the eye. It is the most common type of glaucoma and can also be referred to as chronic or primary glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma (chronic/primary)
It has a wide, open angle between the iris and the cornea. It is caused by slow clogging of the drain channel, which leads to its increaseEyePrint.

Angle-closure glaucoma (a less common form) is when the angle between the iris and the cornea is narrow or closed. It is caused by a rapidly developing blockage of the drainage ducts, which leads to a sudden increase in intraocular pressure. This leads to severe pain, nausea, redness, and blurred vision. Symptoms and damage of this type are usually very noticeable and require immediate medical attention.

Angle-angle glaucoma (acute/narrow-angle)

(Video) Cataract vs Glaucoma - What's the Difference?

- You have a narrow or closed angle between the iris and the cornea
- Caused by rapid blockage of the drainage channels, which leads to a sudden increase in intraocular pressure
- Symptoms include severe pain, nausea, redness and blurred vision
- Requires immediate medical attention

Other less common forms of glaucoma are secondary glaucoma (which can be open or closed) and congenital glaucoma.

secondary glaucomarefers to glaucoma in which there is an identifiable cause of increased intraocular pressure, such as B. eye injuries, inflammation, certain medications (steroids) and advanced cases of cataracts or diabetes. Treatment usually includes medication, laser surgery, or conventional surgery.

congenital glaucomaoccurs in babies when the eye's outflow channels develop abnormally during the prenatal period. It is rare, can be inherited, and can often be corrected with microsurgery or treated with medication and surgery.

Common signs and symptoms of glaucoma include the following.
Over-the-counter glaucoma:

-No S/S in early stages
-Slow and progressive loss of peripheral vision
- Tunnel vision
- Persistent dull pain in forehead
- Difficulty adjusting to the dark
- Color changes are not recognized

S/S des Engwinkelglaukoms:

-Intense eye pain causing N/A
- Decreased/blurred vision
-Halos around the lights
-Red conjunctiva and cloudy cornea
-Permanent blindness if the IOP is too high for 24-48 hours

S/S of congenital glaucoma:

wide eyes
cloudy cornea
sensitivity to light
excessive tearing

Glaucoma is diagnosed with multiple painless tests in a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Tonometry:measures the pressure in the eye.

Ophthalmoscopy:brightens and enlarges the fundus of the eye.

Gonioscopy:uses a special mirrored magnifying glass to examine the drainage channels for proper fluid flow.

(Video) Biggest Differences Between Glaucoma and Cataracts | NCLEX RN Review

visual field test:used to measure any loss of peripheral vision.

With early detection and treatment, glaucoma can almost always be controlled and vision preserved. However, once sight is lost, it cannot be restored.

treatmentfocuses on lowering intraocular pressure to prevent damage to the optic nerve. This is most commonly accomplished through the use of eye drops or oral medications — some work to reduce fluid production in the eye and others allow fluid to drain from the eye more quickly.

OtherstreatmentAnother option is laser trabeculoplasty, which uses a laser to create holes in the drainage canal network to facilitate fluid drainage.

If these methods do not lower fluid pressure, conventional surgery (trabeculectomy) is required to create a new drainage area to allow fluid to collect and drain into the vascular system.

Glaucoma treatment is usually a lifelong process that requires frequent monitoring and constant treatment.

Care tips for patients with glaucoma:
The eye drops must be used regularly and consistently - if they are stopped, the pressure in the eye increases to harmful levels.

Someone with glaucoma should normally be screened every 3-4 months for the rest of their life as there is no way to tell by touch or sight if their glaucoma is under control.

With glaucoma being the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, cataracts is the leading cause of preventable blindness.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens that causes gradual, painless clouding and eventual loss of vision.

(Video) Cataract and glaucoma difference | Glaucoma vs cataract

Cataracts are generally classified as:

 until now- related to aging
innate- Gift at birth
traumatic- associated with injuries
secondary- Occur after other eye or systemic diseases

Cataract- Clouding of the lens leading to gradual painless fogging and eventual loss of vision.

Risk factors for cataracts are:

Age (increases dramatically after age 65)
Prolonged sun exposure
Exposure to high dose radiation
poorly controlled diabetes
eye trauma
Drug effects of corticosteroids, phenothiazines and some chemotherapeutic agents

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts:

Gradual blurring and decreased vision
Light up at night when driving
faded colors
halos around the light
Hazy, white opacity behind the pupil
Sometimes vision improves when the pupil dilates at night

Cataracts are diagnosed by examining the lens directly with an ophthalmoscope after dilation of the pupil.

Surgery is the definitive treatment for cataracts with a 90-95% success rate. Cataracts are removed when a visual impairment interferes with daily activities and is performed as an outpatient surgery under local anesthesia. 90% of patients achieve nearly 20/20 corrected vision after surgery.

Phacoemulsification is the most common cataract surgery in the developed world, using ultrasonic energy to emulsify the cataract lens. A new plastic lens is then inserted.

Another method of cataract removal is extracapsular cataract extraction, in which the lens and anterior capsule are removed and an intraocular lens is implanted behind the pupil and iris.

Cataract surgery with phacoemulsification - most common in the developed world - ultrasonic energy is used to emulsify the cataract lens

care tipsfor a cataract patient:
Prevent cataracts by wearing sunglasses and not smoking.

(Video) Difference between Cataract and Glaucoma - Dr. Sirish Nelivigi

Before cataract surgery, provide structured preoperative education and make sure the patient has someone to take them home.

The patient wears a protective bandage at home and then eye protection is worn at night for 2 to 3 weeks to prevent accidental shock or pressure while sleeping.

In most cases, the patient's life has changed for the better due to the improved vision.

Let's look at an overview of glaucoma and cataracts side by side.

Glaucoma is caused by a blockage of the drainage ducts in the eye, resulting in increased pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve.

There is permanent loss of peripheral vision, as well as pain and halos around lights with angle-closure glaucoma.

It is treated with eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, or conventional surgery to lower the pressure inside the eye.

Cataracts, on the other hand, is a clouding of the lens where vision gradually becomes blurred and leads to vision loss. A glare or halo is usually seen around the lights.

It is treated by surgically removing the cataract lens and putting a new lens in the eye.

Ultimately, the progression of glaucoma can be slowed or stopped if treated early; and cataracts can be easily removed with surgery.

(Video) Biggest Difference between Glaucoma & Cataracts I Sign & Symptom, Treatment & Management Explain.


How can you tell the difference between glaucoma and cataracts? ›

Glaucoma and cataracts affect two different areas of the eyes. Glaucoma involves eye pressure and affects the optic nerve, and cataracts involve the breakdown of proteins and affect the lens.

Which is worst glaucoma or cataract? ›

Glaucoma is a condition where a buildup of pressure in the eye causes damage to the optic nerve which is the vital link of the eye to the brain which processes visual information. Cataracts are unlikely to be the cause of blindness, not so with Glaucoma; it can cause irreversible blindness and must be treated.

Should you have cataract surgery if you have glaucoma? ›

Is it safe to have cataract surgery with glaucoma? While every person's condition is different, it is generally considered safe to have cataract surgery with glaucoma. However, cataract surgery has been shown to increase eye pressure, so those with glaucoma may wish to have both procedures done at the same time.

What do glaucoma eyes look like? ›

Redness in the eye: Sometimes accompanied by pain, which may be a sign of injury, infection or acute glaucoma. Eye that looks hazy: A cloudy-looking cornea is the most common early sign of childhood glaucoma.

What vision is lost first in glaucoma? ›

Glaucoma is a complex disease associated with the build-up of fluid pressure inside the eye that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve, a bundle of over a million nerve fibers, transmits the message of sight from the eye to the brain. In glaucoma, the nerve fibers carrying peripheral vision are affected first.

What comes first glaucoma or cataracts? ›

Glaucoma and cataracts are not typically related, however, because both eye conditions often develop or worsen with age, there is a significant chance that a glaucoma patient may be affected by cataracts at some time, especially over the age of 50 when cataracts commonly form.

Who gets glaucoma the most? ›

Know Your Glaucoma Risk

Anyone can get glaucoma, but certain groups are at higher risk. These groups include African Americans over age 40, all people over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes. African Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than whites.

Does anything make glaucoma worse? ›

High trans fats have been proven to cause damage to the optic nerve. Time to cut out fried foods, baked goods and any product with an ingredient list that includes hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Saturated foods that include red meat, beef, lard, shortening and oils can also worsen glaucoma.

Which cataract affects vision the most? ›

A posterior subcapsular cataract often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night. These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than other types do.

Is glasses recommended for glaucoma? ›

Although these glasses and contacts are not available now, it is important that patients with glaucoma have proper eyewear. Use of glasses can provide protection for patients who may only have one functional eye. In these cases, polycarbonate lenses can offer more protection.

What should you not do if you have glaucoma? ›

So, What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Glaucoma?
  1. Caffeine. Some studies suggest caffeine increases intraocular pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. ...
  2. Saturated Fats. ...
  3. Trans Fats. ...
  4. Weight-Lifting. ...
  5. Scuba Diving. ...
  6. Bungee Jumping. ...
  7. Yoga.
Mar 28, 2021

Do they take your eye out for glaucoma surgery? ›

This type of surgery is usually used to treat open-angle glaucoma. It's done in a hospital and usually takes less than an hour. The surgeon will create a tiny opening in the top of your eye. The opening will be under your eyelid, where no one will see it.

What are the first signs that glaucoma is developing? ›

5 Early Signs of Glaucoma
  • Hazy or blurred vision: Distorted or blurry vision accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Eye pain: Severe pain around your eyes & head.
  • Eye redness: Red eyes caused by increased eye pressure.
  • Colored halos around lights: Colored bright circles forming around light sources.
Jun 13, 2022

What are two 2 symptoms of glaucoma? ›

  • No symptoms in early stages.
  • Gradually, patchy blind spots in your side vision. Side vision also is known as peripheral vision.
  • In later stages, difficulty seeing things in your central vision.
Sep 30, 2022

Can an opthamologist tell if you have glaucoma? ›

Your ophthalmologist uses eye drops to numb your eye, then touches your cornea with a special lens. The lens shows whether the angle is open or closed. If the angle is closed, the drainage system is blocked, which may indicate glaucoma. The test is also called gonioscopy.

Does watching TV affect glaucoma? ›

If your eyes become tired with prolonged concentration, you can rest them periodically - but please don't worry that you have done them any harm. Similarly, longer distance viewing such as driving, watching TV or going to the movies does not harm your eyes. If playback doesn't begin shortly, try restarting your device.

When is it too late to treat glaucoma? ›

By the time you notice vision loss from glaucoma, it's too late. The lost vision cannot be restored, and it's very likely you may experience additional vision loss, even after glaucoma treatment begins.

What are three symptoms of glaucoma? ›

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
  • Eye pain or pressure.
  • Headaches.
  • Rainbow-colored halos around lights.
  • Low vision, blurred vision, narrowed vision (tunnel vision) or blind spots.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Red eyes.
Nov 18, 2022

What type of vision is lost with glaucoma? ›

Vision loss due to glaucoma has traditionally been described as loss of “peripheral vision”; that is, loss of vision at the outer edges.

Can cataracts and glaucoma be treated at the same time? ›

When people with glaucoma get cataracts, it's the perfect opportunity to treat both problems at once. During cataract surgery, doctors can perform a simple, safe glaucoma procedure, so people get the clear vision they need as well as control of intraocular pressure (IOP).

How do I know if I have glaucoma in my eyes? ›

The best way to find out whether open-angle glaucoma is occurring is to get regular eye exams (usually once a year). An ophthalmologist will examine your optic nerves and check your eye pressure for any unusual readings. Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, usually does present symptoms, including: Blurry vision.

What is worsen glaucoma? ›

The increased pressure in your eye, called intraocular pressure, can damage your optic nerve, which sends images to your brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years.

What is the latest treatment cure for glaucoma update 2022? ›

On September 26, 2022, the FDA approved a new drug — in the form of eyedrops — by Santen to treat open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension. October 04, 2022 - In a recent press release, Santen announced that the FDA approved OMLONTI, the company's newest ophthalmic medication.

What is the best glaucoma treatment in the world? ›

Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) has become the preferred approach to glaucoma management for many eye care professionals and their patients with mild-to-moderate glaucoma.

What is the best drink for glaucoma? ›

A study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that people who drank at least one cup of hot tea daily lowered their glaucoma risk by 74% compared to those who did not. The foundation also suggested chocolate, bananas, avocados, pumpkin seeds and black beans for their health benefits.

What is the best vitamin to take for glaucoma? ›

They found that people who consumed high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, either as supplements or through food, were 47 percent less likely to develop glaucoma. Surprisingly, the vitamins provided protection only when all three were taken together.

What drugs worsen glaucoma? ›

Steroids are the main medicine that can raise eye pressure for patients with open-angle glaucoma,” Dr. McKinney says. Taking steroid drugs in any form – orally, topically, through an inhaler or IV – can worsen glaucoma for these patients. Steroids applied closest to the eye carry the highest risk.

What causes cataracts to worsen quickly? ›

Trauma-related cataracts are typically the most fast-growing type of cataracts. Radiation: Radiation-related cataracts, sometimes listed under trauma-related cataracts, occur after the lens has been exposed to radiation. Exposure to high levels of radiation can result in clouded vision in as little as two years.

What is the average age for cataract surgery? ›

In most people, cataracts start developing around age 60, and the average age for cataract surgery in the United States is 73.

How do you know when it's time for cataract surgery? ›

Signs You Need Cataract Surgery

You find it difficult to see well enough to perform tasks at work. Your vision has gotten in the way of doing activities around the home, such as cooking and cleaning. You no longer see the television screen or printed material clearly. Driving, especially at night, no longer feels safe.

Is sunlight good for glaucoma? ›

Less eye exposure to the sun will likely result in fewer cataracts and will help prevent exfoliation glaucoma. And, although genes play a significant role in glaucoma development, sun exposure is still important.

Does Medicare pay for glasses if you have glaucoma? ›

What isn't covered? Original Medicare doesn't pay for routine vision care, including glasses or contact lenses. Even if your healthcare provider believes you should have glaucoma screenings more often than once per year, Medicare generally won't cover the extra tests. You'll need to pay for those fully out of pocket.

Does sunlight make glaucoma worse? ›

One of the biggest side effects of glaucoma-related photophobia is glare sensitivity that can be worsened by sunlight as well as fluorescents, LED or other artificial light. This makes it difficult for patients to perform normal activities of living such as driving at night and going outside.

Does reading make glaucoma worse? ›

No, quite the contrary. Reading can't make your glaucoma worse, so if you have this eye illness, don't be discouraged. There are various tools that can help you read.

What medications should glaucoma patients avoid? ›

Closed-Angle Glaucoma: Medicines to Avoid
  • Antihistamines and decongestants.
  • Asthma medicines.
  • Motion sickness medicines.
  • Some medicines used to treat depression (tricyclic antidepressants).

Does drinking water help glaucoma? ›

From a glaucoma viewpoint, there are no dietary or drinking habits that increase the risk of the disease. Drinking a bottle of water very quickly does raise eye pressure, so we recommend you drink slowly to avoid this. Eating a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is a good health habit.

What does your eye look like after glaucoma surgery? ›

Following glaucoma surgery, it's common for your vision to become blurred. This can last from a few days to 6 weeks. Inflammation, swelling, redness, or irritation in the eye are all common during the first few days post-surgery.

Can you see right after glaucoma surgery? ›

Recovery from glaucoma surgery varies, depending on the surgery. Most people notice recovery in vision in days to weeks after the surgery. Instances of months-long recovery are possible, although very uncommon. “Visual recovery depends on the surgery and on the eye's healing response,” says Johnson.

How painful is glaucoma surgery? ›

Patients who undergo glaucoma surgery usually do not experience significant pain during or after the surgery. Like any surgery, many patients experience mild discomfort for a few weeks following surgery. Strong pain medication is not commonly needed.

What are red flags for glaucoma? ›

Symptoms of glaucoma
  • intense eye pain.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • a red eye.
  • a headache.
  • tenderness around the eyes.
  • seeing rings around lights.
  • blurred vision.

Where does glaucoma usually start? ›

At first, glaucoma doesn't usually have any symptoms. That's why half of people with glaucoma don't even know they have it. Over time, you may slowly lose vision, usually starting with your side (peripheral) vision — especially the part of your vision that's closest to your nose.

What is the hallmark symptom of glaucoma? ›

Glaucoma's hallmark symptom is a gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes.

What can be misdiagnosed as glaucoma? ›

The most common diagnoses were ischemic optic neuropathy (25%), compressive optic neuropathy (18.7%) and hereditary optic neuropathy (18.7%). Based on the analysis of fundus photographs and HVF tests, 25% of these were misdiagnosed as glaucoma (two ischemic optic neuropathies and two congenital optic disc anomalies).

What is the average age for glaucoma? ›

What's the most common age for developing glaucoma? You are most at risk for developing glaucoma if you are 40 years old or older. But that's not to say that this is the only time you can develop glaucoma. Like any other health condition, anyone can develop glaucoma.

What eye drops help with high eye pressure? ›

Some types of eye drops work by helping fluid drain from your eye, which lowers eye pressure. Examples include: Prostaglandins, like Xalatan (latanoprost), Travatan Z (travoprost), Zioptan (tafluprost), and Lumigan (bimatoprost)

What tests confirm glaucoma? ›

Tests to diagnose and monitor glaucoma
  • Eye pressure test. An eye pressure test (tonometry) uses an instrument called a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your eye. ...
  • Gonioscopy. ...
  • Visual field test. ...
  • Optic nerve assessment.

Should glaucoma be treated by an optometrist or ophthalmologist? ›

For those that have eye health problems such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration, seeking medical care from an ophthalmologist may be recommended. Often eye diseases will be diagnosed by your optometrist first, who may refer you to or consult with an ophthalmologist to provide you the best care possible.

How do doctors tell if you have glaucoma? ›

Eye doctors can check for glaucoma as part of a comprehensive dilated eye exam. The exam is simple and painless — your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and then check your eyes for glaucoma and other eye problems. The exam includes a visual field test to check your side vision.

Can an optometrist tell if you have glaucoma? ›

Optometrists go through significant training to become experts on eyes and eye-related issues. They are trained and qualified to diagnose many eye conditions or diseases, glaucoma included. In addition to diagnosing, they can also treat many of these same diseases.

Do you need to wear glasses if you have glaucoma? ›

Although these glasses and contacts are not available now, it is important that patients with glaucoma have proper eyewear. Use of glasses can provide protection for patients who may only have one functional eye. In these cases, polycarbonate lenses can offer more protection.

At what eye pressure is glaucoma diagnosed? ›

The range for normal pressure is 12-21 mm Hg (“mm Hg” refers to millimeters of mercury, a scale used to record eye pressure). Most glaucoma cases are diagnosed with pressure exceeding 20 mm Hg. However, some people can have glaucoma at pressures between 12 -21 mm Hg.

What should glaucoma patients avoid? ›

High trans fats have been proven to cause damage to the optic nerve. Time to cut out fried foods, baked goods and any product with an ingredient list that includes hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Saturated foods that include red meat, beef, lard, shortening and oils can also worsen glaucoma.

What is the most common cause of glaucoma? ›

Glaucoma is a chronic, progressive eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve, which leads to visual field loss. One of the major risk factors is eye pressure. An abnormality in the eye's drainage system can cause fluid to build up, leading to excessive pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve.

Does Medicare cover eye exams for glaucoma? ›

Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. covers glaucoma tests once every 12 months if you're at high risk for developing the eye disease glaucoma.

What is the normal eye pressure by age? ›

Age-related change in IOP

In the cross-sectional analysis, average IOP increased from 12.7 mm Hg in subjects in their 20s to 14.0 mm Hg in those in their 40s. Then IOP decreased from 13.9 mm Hg in those in their 60s to 13.1 mm Hg in those in their 70s.

What helps glaucoma go away? ›

Glaucoma is treated by lowering intraocular pressure. Treatment options include prescription eye drops, oral medicines, laser treatment, surgery or a combination of approaches.
Surgery and other therapies
  • Laser therapy. ...
  • Filtering surgery. ...
  • Drainage tubes. ...
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).
Sep 30, 2022

Does glaucoma cause floaters? ›

Do you ever see black spots, wavy line, halos, bright lights or floating objects in the center of your vision? If the answers are “yes,” there is a good chance you may be developing glaucoma. In fact, the first symptoms of this eye condition are: vision difficulties like dark spots and black wavy lines.


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