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Cataracts vs Glaucoma: What’s the Difference?

Cataracts and glaucoma are both eye diseases that most commonly affect the elderly; however, they are not usually related or caused by the same circumstances. While several causes of cataracts, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can also contribute to glaucoma, in many cases, one condition can exist without the other. Having said that, there are a few similarities between the two disorders to be aware of.

Clouding of the lens of the eye, known medically as a cataract, can cause severe vision impairment if not corrected. Cataracts are most common in people over the age of 65 and are more likely to occur in people with diabetes, who have high blood pressure or heart problems, or who smoke cigarettes. Symptoms include cloudy or blurry vision, changes in colors (colors look duller), reduced ability to see objects near and far, sensitivity to light (photosensitivity), and double vision.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting information from your retina to your brain. Because there are no symptoms, most people with glaucoma are unaware they have it. However, if not treated early on, it can cause irreversible damage and blindness. If you’re experiencing any changes in vision, such as blurred or dimmed sight or trouble reading, make sure to consult your doctor right away.

The primary difference between cataracts and glaucoma is that cataracts are clouding of the eye lens, but glaucoma is an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that affects the optic nerve and can lead to blindness if left untreated. Cataract surgery consists of removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear prosthetic lens, but glaucoma may require operations to relieve pressure on the optic nerve. Medication, surgical procedures, or laser treatments are used to treat glaucoma, although there is no treatment for cataracts other than surgery. Surgeons may cut blood vessels around the cornea or inject medication into the eye as part of the procedure to address diabetes issues.

Although they share some similarities, there are important distinctions that set these two conditions apart. Your ophthalmologist will be able to provide you with information about what type of eye condition you might have based on symptoms like light sensitivity, seeing halos around objects, and changes in your ability to see colors. The internet is a great place to find resources about both cataracts and glaucoma, but it can be difficult to determine what is trustworthy. Fortunately, there are some useful websites out there, such as Responsum Health, that function as a go-between you and the information you require. Many of these platforms also provide more general educational information to help you better understand the signs and symptoms of each ailment, so you know exactly where to go if you start having problems.

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