Treating Cataracts & Glaucoma

Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudiness that occurs in the natural lens inside of the eye. The lens is made mostly of water and protein that is arranged to let light through. Sometimes the protein clumps, blocking light and making the lens appear cloudy. Cataracts are not a disease; we will all develop cataracts as we get older.

Symptoms

A person with cataracts may notice faded colors, problems with light (such as halos, or headlights that seem too bright), or poor night vision.

Treatment

Your eye doctor can detect the presence of cataracts through a thorough eye exam, including a microscopic examination of the inside of the eye. When vision is impaired to the point that it interferes with a person’s daily activities, surgery may be considered. In this out-patient procedure, the cloudy portion of the natural lens is removed, and an implant is put in its place. Most patients enjoy improved vision immediately following the procedure, and many find themselves much less dependant on glasses for their distance vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common eye disorder affecting millions of Americans. It is caused by too much fluid pressure on the inside of the eye. The fluid in the eyes helps to nourish and cleanse the inside of the eye by constantly flowing in and out. When fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual, painless loss in peripheral vision.

When too much fluid is produced or the fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss in peripheral vision.

Symptoms

Those suffering from open-angle glaucoma may have no symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages. With advanced glaucoma, patients develop tunnel vision, where the peripheral field of vision decreases. Glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness. Narrow-angle glaucoma, which is less common, may cause sudden sharp pain in the eyes, blurred vision, and even nausea or vomiting. It can cause blindness in a matter of days, and requires immediate medical attention.

Risk Factors & Treatment

Heredity seems to be a risk factor. Also, you may be at greater risk if you are over 45, of African descent, very near-sighted, or diabetic. Finally, if you have used steroids or cortisone for a long period of time, or if you have suffered an eye injury in the past, you have a greater chance of developing glaucoma. Treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser treatment, and other surgeries. The goal of treatment is to reduce the pressure, thereby limiting damage to the optic nerve and preserving vision.