Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readJan 30, 2023

Topic: Is it Glaucoma or Cataracts?

It’s no secret that as we age, our vision has a mind of its own. Our vision does not consult with us asking if we want to see more or less. Populations everywhere suffer from glaucoma and cataracts, which are known to result in blindness if untreated. All we know is how often magnifying tools and reading glasses become searchable items to read our books, newspapers, and medication labels. We place them all over the house. Every light is on in the house at night and every blind is open during the day to see clearly. Vision changes are not always an elder problem. Being aware of eye health is a part of caregiving. Caregivers and care recipients must maintain eye health, so they can identify early when changes occur. Remember, you are no good to anyone if your health is questionable. This includes eye health! There are two eye conditions that we are addressing and require attention.

Glaucoma or Cataracts-Whats the difference?

Every good morning and every good night suggests the importance of managing our overall health. Our vision (eyes) is no exception! Our vision, like every other part of ourselves, can experience a health challenge. January is glaucoma awareness. But addressing cataracts is just as important. So how do you separate the two? Definitions are in order here:

**Glaucoma is caused by optic nerve damage. It is triggered by high intraocular pressure or increased pressure in the eye (Sugue, 2023).

There are two types of glaucoma:

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (most common)

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma(rare)

**Cataracts form on the surface of your lens noted by a cloudy formation that appears. In a healthy eye, the lens should be clear( Sugue, 2023).

There are similarities that both glaucoma and cataracts share. It is too time-consuming to share in-depth, however, they are often age-related and genetics may play a role. Cataracts develop over time and pain is not associated with the condition. On the other hand, glaucoma progresses gradually with no early signs. Some individuals state it is painful. Women have a higher incidence. Both eyes can be impacted and most individuals described blurred vision, dim vision, and problems seeing at night. There are treatments for both conditions. Surgery to remove cataracts is very common. Eye drops are often prescribed for glaucoma and surgery to drain the fluid from the eyes. This helps to release pressure. Unfortunately, glaucoma is not reversible, but symptoms can be managed with treatment options.

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, as we end glaucoma awareness month, early recognition and annual eye examinations can help identify changes, possible problems, and treatment. Further, understanding the difference between cataracts versus glaucoma is a significant step toward protecting your vision. Be safe! Be well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.