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Glaucoma vs Macular Degeneration: Understanding the Difference

Gina Walters
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LAST UPDATED:

glaucoma vs macular degeneration

Regarding eye diseases, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration are two of the most common and prevalent. 

While they both negatively affect our eyes, they are two distinct conditions with different causes, symptoms, and treatments.

In this article, we will see Glaucoma vs Macular Degeneration and understand the difference between the two. 

We will compare their causes, symptoms, and treatments to understand the two eye conditions better.

What is Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration

Often called the “silent thief of sight”, Glaucoma is an eye disease that hurts the optic nerve. 

The damage to your optic nerve is usually caused by high eye pressure (high Intraocular Pressure), which causes loss of sight over time. 

There are several types of Glaucoma, such as Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma.

However any type of Glaucoma can cause vision loss that gets worse over time.

On the other hand, Macular Degeneration mostly affects the macula, which is the center part of the retina that enables you to see clearly. 

Macular Degeneration weakens the central vision, making it hard to see things right before you. 

Macular Degeneration is different from Glaucoma, which generally causes loss of peripheral vision. 

People over 65 are most likely to have this disease, which usually worsens slowly over time.

Understand the difference between Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma, read our article: Open vs Closed-Angle Glaucoma.

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Symptoms of Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma

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Consult a doctor (if you experience any symptoms of Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma)

Even though Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration are two different eye diseases, they might have some common symptoms. 

Noticing any symptom during the early stages of Glaucoma is often difficult. It is also known as the ‘silent thief of sight’. 

As the disease gets worse, peripheral vision is lost over time. In many cases, people also notice changes in their center vision

Some people may have eye pain and red eyes because of high Intraocular Pressure.

When it comes to Macular Degeneration, it is the central vision that is mostly affected. 

Also, it can make dark or empty spots appear in the middle of your field of view. Macular degeneration is usually not painful.

Even though these vision problems are similar, the vision loss trend sets them apart. 

Glaucoma starts with problems with peripheral vision and moves in on central vision over time. 

Macular degeneration, on the other hand, damages central vision directly while leaving peripheral vision unaffected. 

Understanding these differences is important for finding these eye diseases early and treating them best for each person.

To know more about various Glaucoma symptoms, read our article: Glaucoma Symptoms.

Warning:
Do not take any medication on your own. Always consult a doctor to determine the right dosage and avoid any interactions or side effects.

Treatment: Glaucoma vs Macular Degeneration

The ways that Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration are treated are very different. 

Managing Glaucoma is all about lowering Eye Pressure or Intraocular Pressure inside the eye. 

The goal is to stop the disease from getting worse, which can be done with Glaucoma eye drops, laser treatment, or, if necessary, surgery. 

Regular checking is very important. On the other hand, there aren’t many direct ways to treat Macular Degeneration. 

Anti-VEGF treatment can be used to treat “wet” AMD. This slows the disease’s progression and protects central vision. 

Anti-VEGF treatment: These medicines help in stopping damaged blood vessels under the retina from leaking, growing, and then bleeding.

However, treatments for “dry” AMD don’t work either, and people with this condition often rely on low vision aids and other adaptive techniques to get by. 

Understanding these differences is vital to giving the right care for each disease.

Want to know more about the Glaucoma treatment methods? Read our article: Glaucoma Treatment.

CharacteristicsGlaucomaMacular Degeneration
TypesOpen-angle, angle-closure, normal-tension Glaucoma, and moreDry and wet (neovascular)
SymptomsPrimarily an age-related condition affecting older individualsCentral vision impairment, blurred or distorted vision, dark spots in central vision
CausesElevated intraocular pressure, genetics, and other factorsAging, genetics, and environmental factors
TreatmentMedicated eye drops like Careprost, laser therapy, surgeryAnti-VEGF therapy (wet AMD), low vision aids, lifestyle management (dry AMD)
Age-Group affectedCan affect people of all ages, but most common in older adultsCan affect people of all ages but most common in older adults

Conclusion

Finally, the difference between Glaucoma vs Macular Degeneration is important when discussing these eye diseases. 

While both these diseases cause problems in the eye, still, their causes, symptoms, and treatment methods are very different. 

Glaucoma, often known as the “silent thief of sight”, causes central and peripheral vision loss that worsens over time. 

This is mostly because of high eye pressure. Macular Degeneration, on the other hand, mostly weakens center vision, which makes dark spots appear in the field of view. 

There are also different ways to treat these conditions. 

Glaucoma is treated by reducing eye pressure, while Macular Degeneration is delayed and central vision maintained.

Understanding these differences is important for finding Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration early and giving each person the right care.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which is more serious: Glaucoma or Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma impact the eyes differently. Macular Degeneration is of two types: dry and wet. Both dry and wet Macular Degeneration can result in the loss of central vision, leaving peripheral vision as it is. On the other hand, Glaucoma can lead to total vision loss.

Does Glaucoma turn into Macular Degeneration?

No, Glaucoma does not turn into Macular Degeneration. They are distinct eye conditions with different causes, symptoms, and mechanisms of vision impairment.

Does Glaucoma cause 100% blindness?

Glaucoma can lead to blindness, but it doesn’t cause 100% blindness in all cases. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, most individuals can preserve some degree of vision and prevent total blindness.

Is Macular Degeneration curable?

Although central vision loss is very much possible due to Macular Degeneration, total vision loss is rare. While treatments exist, there is no known cure for Macular Degeneration.

How many years can Glaucoma cause blindness?

Despite receiving treatment, approximately 15% to 20% of patients experience blindness in one eye within a 15 to 20-year follow-up period.

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