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Glaucoma Caused By Diabetes: Understanding The Correlation

Posted by EyeSight Hawaii

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina, known as diabetic retinopathy.

A common question that diabetics patients often ask is whether their condition can increase the development of glaucoma caused by diabetes. This condition is a serious eye disorder that can lead to permanent vision loss, making it especially important for individuals with diabetes to understand the risks.

Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in your eye, increasing pressure within the eyeball that damages delicate tissues that support the vision. While there are multiple causes of glaucoma, research has shown that people living with diabetes have an increased risk of developing this condition as well as severe vision loss.

This article will explore the link between diabetes and glaucoma, including what causes this link and how to manage it. With the help of an experienced medical team and lifestyle changes, people living with both conditions may be able to reduce their risk of developing complications.

How Diabetes Can Increase the Risk of Glaucoma

People with a diagnosis of diabetes are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma due to the condition’s effect on the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disease that affects people with diabetes, and it can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This damage can lead to increased pressure within the eyeball, which is one of the main causes of glaucoma. Additionally, high blood pressure associated with diabetes can also increase the risk of developing this type of glaucoma. People with diabetes should be aware that they are more likely to develop this eye disease than those without diabetes.

It is important for people with diabetes to be aware of their increased risk for glaucoma and take steps to reduce their chances of developing it. Regular eye exams are essential for monitoring any changes in vision or signs of glaucoma. In addition, blood sugar control and managing blood pressure can help reduce the risk factors of developing this type of eye disease. With proper management and lifestyle changes, people living with both conditions may be able to reduce their risk for complications from glaucoma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma in Diabetics

  • Blurry vision: One of the primary symptoms of glaucoma in diabetics is hazy or blurred vision, people may lose a portion of their peripheral vision, or have difficulty seeing things that are far away.
  • Puffy/swollen eyes: Diabetics with glaucoma may experience eye puffiness and swell due to an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). This can be noticeable by increased “eye bags”.
  • Seeing halos around lights: Halos, glowing circles, or rainbows appearing around bright objects are symptoms of ocular hypertension.
  • Headaches and pain in the eyes: Glaucoma can cause headaches and irritating pain in the eyes when the severity increases. The eyes may also start to feel itchy, dry, red, and/or sore at times as well.
  • Nausea: Another symptom caused by glaucoma that is common in diabetic patients is nausea. This sensation can range from feeling slightly queasy to more intense experiences.
  • Eye floaters: Eye floaters appear when dots or other shapes drift across the field of vision – this symptom can be very dangerous for those suffering from glaucoma as it could indicate irreversible nerve damage has occurred in some cases.
  • Loss of visual acuity: Visual acuity is a measure of how sharp you can see images on an eye chart — if this level decreases then it usually means some type of complication has occurred like glaucoma-induced optic foraminal narrowing or retinal damage from chronically high IOP levels caused by diabetes-related vascular disease.
  • Difficulty Adjusting to Darkness: People with glaucoma and diabetes diagnosis may experience difficulty adjusting to the darkness, as their eyes take longer than normal to adjust to the dark.
  • Double Vision: Diabetics with glaucoma may experience double vision, or seeing two images instead of one.
  • Loss of Color Perception: Glaucoma can cause a loss of color perception, making it difficult for people with diabetes to distinguish between colors.
  • Tunnel Vision: Tunnel vision is another symptom of glaucoma that is common in diabetics, where they are only able to see what is directly in front of them and have difficulty seeing objects on the sides or periphery.
  • Eye Fatigue: Eye fatigue is another symptom of glaucoma caused by diabetes, where people feel tired after looking at something for too long or having difficulty focusing their eyes on an object for an extended period of time.
  • Sensitivity to Light: People with glaucoma and diabetes may also experience sensitivity to light, which can make it difficult for them to be outside during the day or look at screens.

What Treatments are Available for Glaucoma caused by Diabetes?

Here are some treatment options for Glaucoma caused by diabetes: 

1. Ocular Hypertension Treatment (OHT)

Also known as topical ophthalmic glaucoma treatments, this help to lower ocular hypertension, which is essentially an increase in intraocular pressure/IOP as a result of an imbalance in the production and drainage of aqueous humor or increased resistance at the blood-eye barrier.

The main goal of these treatments is to reduce the IOP without adversely causing distortion of vision while reducing possible side effects associated with the long-term use of medical therapy.

2. Eye Surgeries

Eye surgeries are a common treatment option for glaucoma caused by diabetes. These procedures can be used to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and improve vision. The most common treatment is trabeculoplasty, which uses a laser to open up the drainage channels in the eye, allowing fluid to flow more freely and reducing IOP.

Other types of surgery include filtration surgery, which creates a new pathway for fluid to drain from the eye, and tube shunt surgery, which involves implanting a tiny tube into the eye that helps regulate fluid levels. All of these surgeries have been proven effective in treating glaucoma caused by diabetes. However, they do come with some risks such as infection or bleeding. Patients have to ask their doctor if they are candidates for surgery before deciding on any type of surgical procedure.

3. Monitoring/Medication Combination

Medications as well as aggressive monitoring may be how your doctor decides to treat your glaucoma related to diabetes. Surgical intervention may not always be necessary; it could depend on how severe the condition is and its progression rate over time.

Usually, low doses of medications are given first before stronger doses are prescribed if that fails to prevent further damage from occurring.

4. Macular Edema Therapy

Macular edema can occur when fluid accumulates around the macula due to certain disorders such as diabetes and central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO).

Treatments for this involve using intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF drugs directly into the eye in order to help reduce fluid buildup and improve vision function.

5. Hyperosmotic Agents

Hyperosmotic agents are a type of medication used to treat glaucoma caused by diabetes. These medications work by drawing fluid out of the eye, reducing intraocular pressure (IOP). A patient can take them orally or applied directly to the eye as an eyedrop. Common hyperosmotic agents include glycerin, mannitol, and urea.

These well-tolerated medications have few side effects, but they may cause temporary blurred vision or sting in the eyes. Hyperosmotic agents can help reduce IOP and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.

6. Nutrition Therapy

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins C & E, lutein, and zinc can preserve your eye health by protecting them from oxidative damage brought upon by free radicals or elements like lead or selenium that when exposed, cause cell death or disruption within tissue containing photoreceptors (rods & cones), particularly important for those who suffer forms of diabetic retinopathy.

7. Diabetic Monitoring & Maintenance

A major part of treating glaucoma connected with diabetes is monitoring glucose levels throughout all stages requiring blood tests, also your doctor should perform annual eye exams. In addition keep track of food intakes such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins on a daily basis by maintaining an individualized meal plan tailored according to your own needs.

Early Detection is Key to Treating and Managing Glaucoma in Diabetics

Early detection is key to treating and managing glaucoma in diabetics. It is important for those with diabetes to be aware of the types of glaucoma that can occur due to their condition, as well as the signs and symptoms associated with it. An increase in eye pressure can cause glaucoma, which can be a result of poor blood flow or high average blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is essential for those with diabetes to have annual dilated eye exams to detect any changes in their vision or the presence of glaucoma. During these annual exams, the doctor will check for signs such as optic nerve damage, visual field loss, and other indicators that may suggest a history of glaucoma.

After a diagnosis of glaucoma, your doctor should develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs. This plan may include medications such as eye drops or oral medications that help reduce eye pressure and improve blood circulation around the eyes. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins C & E, lutein, and zinc can help protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals or elements like lead or selenium that when exposed cause cell death or disruption within tissue containing photoreceptors (rods & cones).

Finally, regular monitoring of glucose levels, and maintaining a personalized meal plan can help keep diabetes in check and reduce the risk of developing glaucoma.

 It is essential that diabetics are aware of the different types of glaucoma that could be caused by their condition and get early treatment for managing it
Keeping track of your diabetes is crucial to maintaining good health and meeting treatment objectives

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If you are looking for options and want state-of-the-art glaucoma Hawaii treatment, you will need a doctor with experience. The eye specialists at EyeSight Hawaii in Honolulu, HI, and Maui, HI have the knowledge to help. Make an appointment online or call our office to schedule a consultation today!