Macular degeneration and cataracts both affect a person’s vision. Macular degeneration affects the macula, which allows the eye to see fine details. Cataracts cause a cloud at the front of the lens, preventing light from reaching the retina.
Cataracts cause a clouding of the lens that
Read more about the differences and similarities between the two conditions.
Although both conditions affect a person’s vision, there are some differences between them. These include:
- Part of the eye affected: Cataracts
cloudsthe front of the lens, preventing light from reaching the retina, whereas macular degeneration affectsthe macula, the central part of the retina that allows the eye to see fine details.
- Reversibility: Cataract surgery can reverse the effects of cataracts by
replacinga person’s cloudy lens with an artificial one. Although there is no cure to reverse the effects of macular degeneration, a person can slow down the decline of their vision through treatments such as anti-VEGF injections and laser surgery.
- Symptoms: Although the two conditions share similar symptoms, the main difference is that macular degeneration causes dark areas to appear in the center of a person’s vision.
Differences in symptoms
|The distorted shape of objects||Sensitivity to light and glare|
|Dark spots in a person’s central vision||Need for brighter light for reading and other activities|
|Straight lines looking wavy||Double vision in a single eye|
|White spots in a person’s central vision||Seeing halos around light|
Both conditions share similarities in causes, risk factors and symptoms.
Both conditions share the following symptoms:
- cloudy or blurred vision
- frequent changes in lens prescriptions
increasingdifficulty with vision at night
- loss of clear color vision
Causes and risk factors
- sun exposure
- caucasian women are among the highest population to contract both conditions
There are some similarities between the conditions, but through different tests, they can target which condition affects the eye.
Macular degeneration diagnosis
Either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist will conduct an eye exam followed by a screening test called an Amsler Grid to detect macular degeneration
As the person takes the Amsler Grid screening, the eye specialist can look into a person’s eye to see if there are any changes in the retina using a special lens.
Another option is Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). OCT is noninvasive and uses light waves to make a cross-section and clear image of a person’s retina. An ophthalmologist can see the layers of the retina, which helps to measure their thickness. These measurements help with diagnosis.
Several test options can help diagnose a person with cataracts. These include:
- Visual acuity test: This eye chart measures how well a person can read the letters to
determinevisual clarity and sharpness of vision. A person has one eye covered at a time to view progressively smaller letters throughout the test.
- Slit-lamp examination: This is the most
commondevice to examine the cornea. It involves a microscope, called a slit lamp, which uses an intense form of light that shines through a slit that an optometrist or ophthalmologist uses to look into a person’s eye.
- Retinal exam: An optometrist or ophthalmologist will put eye drops in a person’s eyes to dilate the pupils. They then use an ophthalmoscope to look inside a person’s eye for signs of cataracts.
- Applanation tonometry: This test
measuresthe fluid pressure in a person’s eye using a flat-tipped cone that gently comes into contact with a person’s cornea. The test measures the force needed to temporarily flatten part of a person’s cornea with the cone.
There are some clear differences in how doctors treat both conditions.
Macular degeneration treatment
People with dry macular degeneration may find that the following supplements can help them with symptoms such as vision loss:
Doctors usually prescribe anti-VEGF medication for people with wet macular degeneration. They administer this through an injection to the eye which blocks the growth of new blood vessels.
Nutritionists may recommend eye-healthy foods to help slow down the condition and aid symptoms, including:
The only effective treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery. During surgery, doctors remove a person’s cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens, called an
Unlike macular degeneration, a
Treatment for both
If a person has both conditions, an ophthalmologist will have to determine which condition is predominantly affecting a person’s vision before performing cataract surgery.
Despite some concerns that cataract surgery can worsen macular degeneration symptoms, this
Macular degeneration is an eye condition that affects the retina and a person’s central vision. The most common symptoms are black spots in a person’s central vision, difficulty seeing details and straight lines appearing wavy.
Cataracts affect a person’s lens by clouding it and not allowing light to get through to the retina. Common symptoms include seeing halos around light, sensitivity to light, and cloudiness of vision.
There are several differences between the two conditions. Currently, macular degeneration has no cure, but symptoms can improve through medication, supplements and lifestyle changes. Doctors can reverse cataracts through surgery.