Can You Have Cataract Surgery If You Have Glaucoma?

Can You Have Cataract Surgery If You Have Glaucoma?

Many of us develop cataracts as we get older. If the lens of your eye becomes so cloudy that you have trouble functioning, you’ll likely consider cataract surgery, which replaces the affected lens with an artificial one that improves your vision.
But what if you also have glaucoma? Can you still have cataract surgery?

Yes, it’s possible.

In some cases, having cataract surgery can lower high pressure in your eye as well as the amount of glaucoma medication you need to take. But every patient’s case is unique, and your cataract surgeon will make the best recommendation for you.

What’s especially concerning is that unlike many eye diseases, cataracts can take years to become noticeable. During the early stages, common symptoms are often mistaken for normal signs of aging. Given the fact that cataracts tend to appear when you’re in your 40s or 50s, it’s an easy assumption to make.

Fortunately, cataracts are generally treatable, but early action is always recommended for best results. Here are 5 symptoms that should always be investigated by your eye doctor.

Cataracts and Glaucoma: An Overview

When cataracts occur, your natural lens becomes cloudy, preventing you from seeing images clearly. During the early stages, they can be treated by glasses, but if your cataracts are too opaque, surgery may be your best option.

Glaucoma, on the other hand, is a disease in which your optic nerve gradually dies away, causing permanent vision loss. While it cannot be cured, there are a number of treatments that can prevent it from worsening, such as eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery.

Combining Cataract and Glaucoma Surgeries

Your surgeon may perform one of many common glaucoma surgeries (e.g. trabeculectomy, canaloplasty, endocyclophotocoagulation, drainage devices, and the newer micro-invasive glaucoma surgeries) at the same time they remove your cataracts, treating both conditions at the same time.

In other cases, cataract surgery alone may be the solution. For example, if your eye has narrow angles, the cataract may become too large and crowd other structures, especially the drainage angle. If this happens, replacing the lens can open the drainage angle and improve the pressure in the eye.

Are There Any Unique Concerns for Glaucoma Patients?

Your intraocular eye pressure may be elevated during the hours after cataract surgery, so you’ll want to closely follow instructions regarding your glaucoma medication. During follow-up visits, your doctor will want to closely monitor your eye pressure and, if necessary, adjust your medication to properly manage your glaucoma.

Other unique concerns include:

  • Some intraocular lenses, such as multifocals, may not be suitable if you have advanced glaucoma because they can affect contrast sensitivity (the ability to differentiate between an object and its background) or make you especially sensitive to glare.
  • If you have exfoliation glaucoma, there can be a higher risk of complications due to weakness in the zonules, which is the supportive structure of your natural lens.

The decision of whether or not to combine cataract and glaucoma surgeries in your case will depend on factors such as the type of glaucoma you have and its severity. Your surgeon will review these conditions with you when planning your treatment.

Do You Have Questions About Cataract Surgery and Glaucoma?

When you have both cataracts and glaucoma, there are different treatment options available to you, but choosing the right one means taking many variables into account. Your cataract surgeon at Uptown Eye Specialists will discuss your options and help you identify the best one for you. To learn more, please visit our website or call (416) 292-0330.

Please reschedule your appointment if within the last 14 days you or a household member has travelled outside of Canada, have experienced flu-like symptoms, been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, been diagnosed with COVID-19 or waiting for a lab test for COVID-19.
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