Shedding Light on the Link Between Glaucoma and Diabetes

Aarohi Batra
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Dr. Kaushal

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glaucoma and diabetes

Diabetes has always been associated as a risk factor for Glaucoma.

Still, the inconsistent proof and studies resulted in a controversial association between them.

However, the gap has been filled with some recent studies that claim to find the association between Glaucoma and Diabetes.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, people with Diabetes are two times more likely to develop Glaucoma than non-diabetic people.

Thus, it becomes essential to understand the link between Glaucoma and Diabetes.

This article will help you understand the close relationship between Glaucoma and Diabetes and tell you when to seek medical guidance from a doctor.

Does Diabetes cause Glaucoma

Yes, Diabetes can affect your eyes and cause Glaucoma.

According to NCBI, Diabetes is associated with a significant increase in Glaucoma.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) can cause several ocular complications, including Glaucoma, Cataract, and Diabetic retinopathy.

Also, Primary Open-angle Glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of Glaucoma in diabetic patients.

It happens when your blood glucose (sugar) level increases.

Impact of high glucose in the short term

People may notice a few changes, such as blurry vision for days when they change their Diabetes medicines.

However, high blood sugar levels due to the change in drugs may not cause vision loss in the short term.

Still, it can cause swelling of the eye tissue and result in blurred vision.

This type of blurry vision is reversible and usually goes away once the blood sugar level gets closer to normal.

If the blood sugar level remains high for a long time

high blood sugar levels can damage the retinal blood vesselsSource: Proxima_Studio
High blood sugar levels

Consistent high blood sugar levels can damage the retinal blood vessels.

When the new blood vessels begin to grow, they may bleed in the middle of the eye, which can cause elevated pressure inside the eyes.

As the eye pressure increases, the risk of developing Glaucoma also increases.

Fact:
A high blood sugar level is called Hyperglycemia when there is blood glucose greater than 125 mg/dL.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a diabetic complication that can increase the risk of Glaucoma.

Firstly, changes in your blood sugar with DR weaken the small vessels in the retina and damage it, leading to Glaucoma.

Furthermore, when the blood vessels in the retina are damaged, it causes abnormal blood vessels to grow.

These new blood vessels block the eye’s natural drainage system and can cause Glaucoma.

Secondly, the high blood glucose level of aqueous humor in diabetic patients can promote the synthesis and accumulation of a glycoprotein called Fibronectin.

More accumulation of this glycoprotein in your eye can block the eye’s natural drainage system and lead to Open-angle Glaucoma.

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Can you get Glaucoma without having Diabetes

Glaucoma can develop in people with or without Diabetes. 

However, in diabetic patients, there is a high risk of developing the eye condition.

In people without Diabetes, Glaucoma can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Older age
  • Genetic factors
  • Blood pressure
  • Vasospasm
  • Inocular pressure
  • Myopia
  • Pupillary block

Also read: Glaucoma natural treatment to get insights into alternative remedies and lifestyle changes that may help manage symptoms.

When to contact a doctor

follow doctor's instructionsSource: studioroman
Consult a doctor in case of any symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetic patients should have a dilated eye examination every year.

As the condition of Glaucoma is asymptomatic in the early stages, you may only notice changes in vision once your Glaucoma progresses.

Still, on noticing any of the following symptoms, you can consult your doctor and seek medical treatment:

  • Change in vision
  • There is a blind spot on the side of the eyes

The changes in the eyesight are symptoms of a detached retina.

Warning:
You should seek prompt treatment to protect your eyes if you notice these symptoms.

Conclusion

Glaucoma is a part of diabetic eye diseases and is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.

Diabetes Mellitus is known to affect your eyes and cause various complications, including Open-angle Glaucoma.

It mainly occurs due to a significant increase in the blood sugar level that can damage the retinal blood vessels and cause swelling. 

When the new blood vessel grows, there is a chance that it may bleed in between the middle eye and increase the intraocular pressure.

Moreover, Diabetic Retinopathy, a diabetic eye complication, can also increase the risk associated with Glaucoma.

There are many ways through which a person can develop this eye condition, either with Diabetes or without it.

In people without Diabetes, older age, genetic factors, blood pressure, vasospasm, Myopia, etc. can cause an elevated risk of Glaucoma.

You should consult your doctor on noticing changes in your vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Glaucoma connected to Diabetes?

Yes, people with Diabetes have two times more chances of developing Glaucoma than people without Diabetes. The high blood sugar level can affect your eyes. In the short term, it will not cause any change in the vision. However, if left untreated, it can damage the blood vessels in the retina and cause Glaucoma.

Why does Diabetes cause Glaucoma?

In diabetic patients, high blood sugar can weaken the small vessels in the retina and damage them. Some abnormal blood vessels grow that block the natural drainage system of your eye and can cause Glaucoma. The synthesis of Fibronectin can also block drainage and cause Glaucoma.

What type of Diabetes causes Glaucoma?

Diabetes Mellitus can cause Primary Open-angle Glaucoma. The persistent high glucose can weaken and damage the retinal vessels and lead to abnormal growth of new vessels. The new vessels may bleed in the mid part of the eye and raise intraocular pressure to cause Glaucoma.

What type of Glaucoma is most common in Diabetes?

Primary Open-angle Glaucoma (POAG) is most common in people with Diabetes. POAG is asymptomatic in the early stages. It can show symptoms like blind spots on the side of the eyes and changes in visuals as the condition progresses. You can consult your doctor to get a complete eye examination.

Does blood sugar affect Glaucoma?

Yes, blood sugar levels can affect Glaucoma. In the short term, a rise in its level will not cause serious complications and can go away as the level gets close to normal. However, if it remains, it can weaken and damage the retinal vessels and elevate the intraocular pressure.

Citations:
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