Glaucoma and Diabetes

Published: November 15, 2021

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“Glaucoma is a general term used to describe a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve.”(1) While there are different forms of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma is by far the most common, accounting for more than 90% of cases. With this type of glaucoma there are virtually no symptoms, and it is painless. Vision loss generally begins with side vision, and people affected may compensate without realizing it, by turning their head to see better. Elderly individuals, who are at increased risk of glaucoma, may feel their vision loss is just a part of growing old.(2)

Vision loss from glaucoma is slow and progressive. It is irreversible. Early detection and treatment are key to preserving vision.(3)

“The relationship between diabetes and open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma), has intrigued researchers for years,” states the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics. Also, a person with open-angle glaucoma is more likely to develop diabetes than a person without glaucoma.(4)

One theory about this connection is that high blood sugar, seen in diabetics, increases the rate that a specific glycoprotein called fibronectin forms in the eye. Having more of this protein in the eye may block the eye’s natural draining system, leading to glaucoma.(5)

The most common treatment for glaucoma is prescription eye drops to lower pressure in the eye. Laser treatments are also employed. In the surgical procedure trabeculectomy to treat glaucoma, a surgeon creates a tiny opening in the top of the eye to allow extra fluid to drain, lowering pressure in the eye.(6) During this surgery, mitomycin-c is often applied to the eye to prevent scarring and improve the success rate of surgery.(7)

One way to reduce the risk of developing glaucoma is by preventing Type 2 diabetes, through diet and exercise. There are other risk factors for glaucoma that people have no control over, such as family history and age.(8) Additionally, Asians, Hispanics, and persons of Black African or Black Caribbean descent are at increased risk of developing glaucoma and developing it at a younger age.(9)

Edge Pharma, a 503B Outsourcing Facility, is a leader in compounded ophthalmic products, including mitomycin. Visit our Compounded Ophthalmic Medications page to learn more.

 


(1) Cleveland Clinic, Glaucoma, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/

(2) Glaucoma Research Foundation, Glaucoma Facts and Stats, https://www.glaucoma.org/

(3) Weinreb, R. MD,  Glaucoma Research Foundation, Glaucoma Worldwide: A Growing Concern, https://www.glaucoma.org/

(4) Alvarado, H. MD, Glaucoma Research Foundation, Diabetes and Your Eyesight, https://www.glaucoma.org/

(5) Healthline, Glaucoma and Diabetes, https://www.healthline.com/

(6) National Eye Institute, At a Glance: Glaucoma, https://www.nei.nih.gov/

(7) National Institute for Health Research, Mitomycin Ophthalmic for Glaucoma Surgery, https://www.io.nihr.ac.uk/

(8) Your Sight Matters, The Diabetes-Glaucoma Connection, https://yoursightmatters.com/

(9) VisionAware, Glaucoma, https://visionaware.org/