Before looking into ‘can diabetes cause glaucoma’, let’s take a look at an overview of the glaucoma and diabetes.
Glaucoma is an eye disease, one of the common eye complications that affect diabetics. It occurs due to an increase in the eye pressure and affects the optic nerve. Intense eye pressure may damage optic nerve and cause total loss of vision. It is an insidious condition and peripheral loss of vision is the only indication of glaucoma.
Diabetes is a complicated auto-immune condition caused due to insulin deficiency.
1. Either the body secretes inadequate insulin
2. Lose the ability to absorb insulin
Can diabetes cause glaucoma?
There is a group of eye diseases that affect the diabetic people. Among these, macular edema, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy etc are very common. High blood sugar affects the tiny blood vessels in the retina of the eyes, which causes diabetic retinopathy. On the other hand, damages to eye blood vessels lead to glaucoma.
The relation between diabetes and glaucoma is complicated. Longer a person has diabetes; the risk of glaucoma is higher. Apparently, risk of developing glaucoma is high in the elderly population. Glaucoma occurs in people even with no diabetes.
There is no direct answer to how diabetes mellitus cause glaucoma. The risk of the condition increases with long term diabetes. It turns a complicated problem when a person develops diabetic retinopathy.
Eyes produce water like fluid which circulates around the lens in the front eye chamber. The fluid gets drained through a drainage network. In case of glaucoma, the fluid is trapped due to blockages in drainage system. Accumulation of fluids builds up pressure in the eyes and damages the optic nerves.
In case of diabetic retinopathy, it triggers abnormal growth of blood vessels, which also blocks drainage of fluids.
Diabetes and glaucoma are interlinked. Although these two conditions are not connected directly, it is a chain of process that affects the health.
Glaucoma is not just about peripheral loss of vision. Since intense eye pressure is one of the indications, it may lead to other complications. Until loss of the side vision, it is difficult to diagnose whether you suffer from glaucoma. Immediate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential to complete loss of vision.
Types of glaucoma:
Open angle glaucoma
Also referred as Wide-angle glaucoma, it is the most common type of glaucoma. The drainage network and structure appears normal but it fails to drain out the fluid. Almost 90% of the people with glaucoma are diagnosed with open angle glaucoma.
Closed angle glaucoma
It is one of the common types of glaucoma in the western countries, than Asian subcontinents. This is also termed as ‘Acute’ glaucoma.
How can diabetes cause acute glaucoma
Acute glaucoma is intraocular pressure in the eyes. The fluid in the eyes doesn’t drain due to narrowness of the iris and cornea, triggered by diabetes. It is characterized by sudden buildup of the eye pressure and may cause cataracts and farsightedness.
This is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is necessary.
People who developed diabetic retinopathy suffer from blood vessel damages in the retina. Generally, the new blood vessels are manufactured. However, if the new vessels are likely to grow on the colored segment of the eyes i.e the iris, it causes Neovascular glaucoma. It totally blocks the fluid flow and rapidly builds up the eye pressure. It may lead to sudden vision impairment and even blindness.
An inherited condition where babies are born with defect in the angle of the eyes that prevents or slows down the drainage of the fluid.
Signs of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an insidious condition. There are no signs and symptoms that are likely to indicate. Due to absence of any symptoms at the initial stages, most people aren’t able to identify the condition.
How does glaucoma affect your vision power .
Glaucoma affects vision in many ways.
• It causes blurred vision due to increased pressure in the eyes
• Gradual loss of vision
• Intraocular pressure prevents
• Redness and irritation of the eyes
• Sensitivity to light
What causes glaucoma?
While diabetes is an indirect cause of glaucoma, buildup of eye pressure is the cause of glaucoma which is in turn triggered by many factors.
The reason for blockage of fluid is unknown in many cases. Chemical injuries to the eye, general inflammatory conditions, sever or recurrent eye infections and eye vessel damages makes other reason for glaucoma.
Treatment for glaucoma
Loss of vision caused by glaucoma, which is triggered by diabetic retinopathy, is irreversible.
There are general treatments available to prevent aggravation of the condition.
• Eye drops to reduce the inflammation and increase the outflow of the fluids.
• Laser surgery is recommended for the people with open angle glaucoma which drains the fluids.
• Microsurgery, a new procedure where the surgeon creates a new channel to drain the liquids.
Since diabetics have the high risk of developing glaucoma at any instance, it is essential to screen the eye health at least once in a year with an optometrist.