What is the difference between Glaucoma and Cataracts?

Eye Health Exam for cataracts and glaucoma

Two common conditions that our doctors at Midtown Optometry treat and manage are glaucoma and cataracts.  While both fall into the category of ocular disease, they are very different. glaucoma is a degenerative condition of the optic nerve often caused by high pressure inside the eye.  The increased pressure can damage the optic nerve, which is the eye’s connection with the brain, causing peripheral vision loss.  At each annual exam the doctors at Midtown Optometry perform a detailed screening for glaucoma (see article titled “Air Puff Test”).  If the pressure is found to be too high, eye drops may be prescribed by our optometrists to lower eye pressure into the normal range.  Digital images will also be captured so we can compare your unique optic nerve anatomy to future images looking for subtle changes over time and potential tissue damage.  A threshold visual field test will also be administered on a regular basis to make sure no vision loss is occurring.  Glaucoma has a strong hereditary component and those with a family history should closely monitored. 

Cataracts, on the other hand, are a more benign condition that eventually happen in all eyes.  The lens inside your eye, which is located directly behind the iris, slowly becomes opaque due to changes in the protein structure.  This natural process can be accelerated by UV exposure or trauma.  This causes light scattering, difficulties with glare and oncoming headlights, the need for more light to read, and a decrease in contrast sensitivity.  Unlike glaucoma, cataracts can be removed by a straightforward surgical procedure that our doctors will co-manage with an eye surgeon.  The opaque lens will be replaced with a clear silicone implant that will remove the cataract and reduce dependency on glasses.  The doctor will choose a lens power that will properly focus your vision.  Our Doctors at Midtown Optometry will evaluate the lenses of your eyes at every yearly exam for the onset of cataracts and will advise on treatment options if needed.