While cataracts can make daily activities such as night driving more difficult, glaucoma poses a much more significant threat to your vision and eye health. There is no cure for glaucoma, and any damage done to your vision by this eye condition is permanent.
Early detection and swift treatment are the best ways to avoid any vision loss from glaucoma. At Chicago Cornea Consultants, our eye surgeons offer a treatment that can remove your cataracts and address the root cause of glaucoma: high eye pressure.
Keep reading to learn if you can have a glaucoma procedure if you have cataracts!
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that is characterized by increased eye pressure, leading to damage of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the channel that transmits signals from the eye to the brain so that you can see.
Once your optic nerve is damaged, there is no way to repair it. Typically glaucoma is hereditary.
If members of your family have had glaucoma, let your eye doctor know so they can closely monitor your eye health to catch any initial indications of glaucoma. Routine eye exams are essential because there are often no noticeable symptoms in the early stages.
Your eye doctor can monitor your eye pressure and examine your optic nerve at routine exams to ensure you are not developing glaucoma.
What Causes Glaucoma?
A healthy eye is constantly producing aqueous humor. This fluid fills the front part of the eye and flows out the eye’s drainage system.
It must consistently cycle out of the eye to maintain healthy eye pressure. Balancing this flow is essential to preserving your vision.
One way to check this balance is to measure your eye’s intraocular pressure, also known as IOP. When this outflow becomes disrupted or blocked, the fluid can build up inside your eye and create an increase in eye pressure.
Normal pressure does not interfere with the functioning of the millions of nerve fibers that run from the retina and form the optic nerve. When there’s increased pressure, these nerve fibers can be damaged and affect your vision permanently.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma, but two are more common. Both result from increased intraocular pressure in the eye.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. Fluid must travel through the angle of your eye before it reaches the drainage channel.
In open-angle glaucoma, the angle of the eye is open, but there is a blockage in the drainage channel. When the drainage channel of the eye becomes slowly clogged, the IOP will increase.
This type of glaucoma often causes a gradual change in vision. Because the changes are so gradual, it is difficult for those with this type of glaucoma to notice any vision changes at first.
Angle-closure glaucoma is less common and develops very quickly. This type of glaucoma is caused by a sudden closure of the eye’s angle.
When this angle is blocked, the fluid cannot reach the drainage channel to leave the eye, causing a sudden rise in IOP. The symptoms and damage are noticeable, and it requires immediate medical attention.
Narrow-angle glaucoma is also less common than open-angle glaucoma. Those with narrow-angle glaucoma have an eye with a very narrow angle, which can slow down the fluid’s outflow process.
Although it may not be blocked entirely, as in angle-closure glaucoma, the fluid is still building up in the eye. This causes increased eye pressure and eventually vision damage.
How Do Eye Doctors Treat Glaucoma?
Though there is no cure for glaucoma, treatments that lower eye pressure can prevent further damage to the optic nerve and prevent vision loss. Depending on the type of glaucoma, your treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser procedures, or glaucoma surgery.
Glaucoma eyedrops can help slow eye fluid production or improve the outflow of eye fluid. Medicated eye drops are often the first method of treatment to regulate IOP.
While these drops are effective for some patients, they may not adequately lower the eye pressure in some cases. If drops do not work, your eye doctor may recommend a laser procedure or glaucoma surgery.
If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma and are already planning for cataract surgery, you can combine two procedures and treat both at once.
What Is MIGS?
MIGS stands for Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery. During a MIGS procedure, your eye surgeon inserts a tiny device into your eye’s drainage channels to improve the outflow.
MIGS is an excellent option for treating glaucoma for people who also need cataract surgery. At Chicago Cornea Consultants, you may be a candidate for either placement of a microscopic stent to drain the eye or a procedure that removes tissue to improve fluid flow.
The iStent inject, also known as the trabecular micro-bypass stent, has helped countless patients reduce their use of glaucoma drops. The iStent is a MIGS device that your eye surgeon can implant during cataract surgery.
Another MIGS procedure uses a microscopic blade to cut away tissue and improve intraocular fluid flow. The Kahook Dual Blade can be used during cataract surgery or on its own as a separate surgical treatment.
Once the cataract has been removed and replaced with an intraocular lens, the surgeon can perform the MIGS procedure to help improve eye pressure. Drops may still be necessary to control IOP.
The best way to maintain your eye health and vision is by visiting your eye doctor for routine visits. Our dedicated eye doctors at Chicago Cornea Consultants can diagnose and treat glaucoma and cataracts to help preserve your vision.
Do you want to learn more about how your eye doctor can restore your vision and treat glaucoma through the same procedure? Schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Hoffman Estates, IL, today!