Good news for people with cataracts and glaucoma: Research shows that cataract surgery not only helps with cataracts but also decreases intraocular pressure, which is usually caused by glaucoma. Therefore, if you have both cataracts and glaucoma, one surgery can be doubly beneficial.

Cataracts are a leading cause of visual impairment in the United States and refer to the clouding of the lens. By age 80, more than 50 percent of all people have had or need cataract surgery.

Symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision and increased sensitivity to glare. For example, people with cataracts typically have trouble driving at dawn or dusk.

Although you can take certain steps to cope with cataracts, such as wearing antiglare sunglasses or increasing the amount of ambient light, the only cure for cataracts is surgery.

During the past few decades, cataract surgery has advanced by leaps and bounds. Such advances are attributable to innovations in medical technology, including the introduction of the operating microscope and microsurgical instruments as well as the creation of intraocular lenses for implantation.

Thanks to these advances, eye surgeons are able to make smaller incisions into the eye during cataract surgery, making the whole process a lot less invasive. Less invasive cataract surgery means that recovery times are shortened and fewer complications arise.

The two most common types of small-incision cataract surgery performed worldwide are phacoemulsfication and manual sutureless small incision cataract surgery (MSICS).

In the United States and other developed countries, phacoemulsification is most commonly performed. Whereas MSICS involves surgically removing the whole lens and then implanting a new lens, during phacoemulsification, an ophthalmologist uses ultrasound to first break up (emulsify) the diseased lens and then sucks it up through a small incision. A foldable lens is then inserted through the small incision site.

Both phacoemulsification and MSICS result in reduction of intraocular pressure especially in people with glaucoma. Of note, glaucoma happens when fluid pressure builds in the eye hence causing damage to the optic nerve.

The exact mechanism by which intraocular pressure is decreased after cataract surgery is unclear; however, researchers have some hypotheses explaining why this change occurs. Specifically, the implanted lens is smaller than the diseased lens and takes up less volume therefore decreasing pressure. Furthermore, cataract surgery may result in fibrosis and contraction of a part of the eye called the posterior capsule thus facilitating the drainage of eye fluid and decreasing pressure.

At EyeCare 20/20, in addition to more conventional cataract surgery that involves use of a blade, we also offer HD Cataract Surgery with the Catalys Precision Laser System. By using a laser, we don’t need to use a blade at all! To learn more, please complete our Cataract Evaluation Test.

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