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Cataract Removal As An Alternative To Glaucoma Surgery

November 29, 2011

Cataract surgery may be a viable procedure for patients with glaucoma.

Throughout the world, there are many different vision problems and causes that can lead to potential blindness among adults: birth defects, eye injuries, disease, age, etc. However, in the United States alone, there are two specific vision problems that lead to more cases of blindness in adults than all of the others―glaucoma and cataracts.

These two common vision problems affect many people over the age of sixty and have a tendency to become more noticeable and problematic as we grow older. However, while both glaucoma and cataracts are part of the natural aging process and may develop around the same time in many older adults, the two are not related or triggered by the other.

The long-term effects of cataracts and glaucoma also prove to be very different when it comes down to the effect that they may have on our eyes and how doctors treat the vision loss that these diseases may cause. For instance, while loss of vision due to cataracts may be reversed with surgery if caught early on, loss of vision from glaucoma is, as of yet, irreversible.

However, despite a difference in the cause and effects of these two common vision problems, recent studies are now reporting that cataract surgery may be a viable alternative to glaucoma surgery in patients who suffer from both diseases.

Glaucoma Treatments

Glaucoma is a common eye condition among people over the age of sixty which develops when too much fluid pressure has built up inside of the eye. This increased amount of pressure, called intraocular pressure, can cause damage to our eyes optic nerve―the nerve which transmits images to our brain. Without treatment, glaucoma may cause significant to total blindness within just a few years.

In order to treat the problems and symptoms caused by glaucoma, many people turn to medication  or two different types of surgery― laser or microsurgery. Laser surgery for glaucoma helps to increase the outflow of the fluid from the eye or eliminate any fluid blockage caused by angle-closure glaucoma. Microsurgery works by using an operation called a trabeculectomy, which utilizes a new channel that is created to drain the fluid and reduce the intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma.

However, the problem with glaucoma surgery is that it can be very risky to patients and may even cause complications that could lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision, as well as bleeding or infection.

Cataract Surgery For Glaucoma Patients

Many doctors are now promoting cataract surgery as a beneficial alternative to laser and microsurgery for glaucoma patients. Not only is there a reduction in intraocular pressure post-procedure, but there is also a significant level of enhanced safety for the patient. Using cataract surgery as a treatment for someone with both cataracts and glaucoma can also benefit patients in terms of long term costs and health, as it requires just one trip to the operating room, rather than several.

However, the research on cataract surgery for glaucoma patients is still in its early stages and may not be ideal for all patients who suffer from one of these age-related vision problems. Therefore, if you are over the age of forty and you have a family history of glaucoma or cataracts, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor today to ensure that your eyes are in their tip-top shape going into your senior years.

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