Can Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery Improve Your Glaucoma?

16 May 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Phacoemulsification is a method used during advanced cataract surgery, but it can also have long-lasting impacts on other areas of your ocular health. Most notably, it may reduce the intraocular pressure that is responsible for many serious eye conditions like glaucoma. In mild or developing cases of glaucoma, undergoing phacoemulsification as part of your cataract surgery may even prevent you from needing further operations to correct damage to your optic nerve. If you suffer from both cataracts and glaucoma, read on to learn how phacoemulsification can take some pressure off of your eyes.  

Understanding How Phacoemulsification Surgery Works

Phacoemulsification uses a rapidly vibrating needle to shatter the material that makes up a cataract, essentially causing it to collapse into tiny particles that can then be extracted through a small incision. Afterwards, a new, synthetic lens is inserted to replace the old one. This form of advanced cataract surgery is both safe and effective, and it can get you back on your feet faster than traditional surgery. Besides restoring your vision, however, it may also play a role in the health of your eyes for years or even decades after your operation. 

Exploring the Relationship Between Eye Pressure and Glaucoma

Early glaucoma may be asymptomatic, but it eventually manifests as a gradual loss of vision starting from the periphery and slowly creeping inwards. You may feel like you are looking down an ever narrowing tunnel, with anything to the side becoming lost or blurry. If untreated, this condition can lead to total blindness. There are many possible causes of glaucoma, but it is typically associated with elevated intraocular pressure placing undue stress on the optic nerve. This is caused when the fluids in your eye are unable to move freely, accumulating over time and building up pressure on your nerves in the process. Some individuals are more susceptible to eye pressure than others, making it difficult to predict who will develop glaucoma and who will not. 

Reducing Your Glaucoma Risk After Cataract Surgery 

Multiple studies have shown a seemingly causal association between phacoemulsification and lowered intraocular pressure following cataract surgery. This suggests that undergoing this type of advanced cataract surgery may have additional long-term benefits for patients who also suffer from glaucoma, potentially even preventing further vision loss without the need for surgery. If you suffer from both conditions and are curious about your prospects with phacoemulsification, speak to your optometrist, like Northwest Ophthalmology, about your options and whether or not this form of surgery will be best for you. With a little luck and an experienced surgeon, you may be able to both restore the vision you lost due to cataracts while also preventing future sight degradation as a result of glaucoma.