Why Would a Glaucoma Specialist do my Cataract Surgery?

Why would a glaucoma specialist do my cataract surgery?  I am not sure I trust a glaucoma specialist to do my cataract surgery.

We asked Dr. Leah Umfrey, a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma management, treatment and surgery and routinely performs cataract surgery to answer this question.  Dr. Umfrey has this to say:

“This is a question and concern I occasionally hear and address with patients.  Initially, some patients don’t trust that I can do cataract surgery because I am a ‘glaucoma specialist.’  In almost all cases, once I’ve explained a glaucoma specialist’s training, patients have a better understanding of why glaucoma specialists make excellent cataract surgeons.

I explain to patients that eye surgery is divided into two major segments. 

  • One is known as the anterior segment.  You can think of this as the “front” of the eye and it includes issues that relate to the cornea, angle pathology related to glaucoma, and cataracts. 
  • The other segment is known as the posterior segment or the “back” area of the eye, and this involves issues related to the vitreous, retina and optic nerve.

So, a glaucoma specialist, like a regular cataract surgeon, is a type of anterior segment surgeon.  However, the glaucoma specialist, who is also a cataract surgeon, goes on to have advanced training in glaucoma surgery. 

Therefore, most glaucoma surgeons perform cataract surgery in addition to glaucoma surgery, as well as some corneal procedures. In fact, glaucoma specialists in general are considered to have an advanced surgical skillset because of the inherent difficult nature of glaucoma surgery and the numerous and multiple eye conditions often seen in glaucoma patients, including complex cataracts. Given how well trained and experienced glaucoma specialists are, it is common for them to do a cataract surgery even when the patient does NOT have glaucoma, or an angle pathology related to glaucoma.”

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