Can Diabetes Cause Glaucoma?
Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 11/28/2016
Diabetes has been linked to the onset of glaucoma. Yet there is some debate amongst medical professionals as to whether both types of diabetes are directly responsible for the development of specific types of glaucoma in diabetics. This is a complicated issue that has credible arguments on both sides.
Understanding Glaucoma and Diabetes
There are several different types of diabetes as well as glaucoma. Type 1 diabetes triggers a total loss of cells within the pancreas that creates insulin. Type 2 diabetes does not completely destroy these cells. Add in the fact that there are numerous types of glaucoma and it is easy to see why the alleged link between diabetes and glaucoma can be a bit complicated.
The Development of Diabetic Retinopathy
If Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes is left untreated for an extended period of time, it will inevitably lead to the onset of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes blood vessels to leak. It also creates an insufficient supply of retinal blood that eventually leads to flawed retinal function. Eventually, the retina is completely starved of oxygen, its drainage system malfunctions, intraocular pressure is heightened and neovascular glaucoma occurs.
Does Diabetes Lead to Other Forms of Glaucoma?
There is much debate as to whether either type of diabetes causes additional forms of glaucoma aside from neovascular glaucoma. In particular, medical researchers question whether either type of diabetes leads to primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). This form of glaucoma is the most prevalent in the western hemisphere. Some argue that the supposed relationship between Type 1 diabetes and POAG has not been analyzed deeply enough. At this point in time, most researchers agree that Type 1 diabetes does not trigger POAG. However, there is mounting evidence that Type 2 diabetes is a strong risk factor for this version of glaucoma.
There are some researchers who are adamant that linking Type 2 diabetes to POAG is premature. Their argument is that patients who suffer from diabetes are inclined to be monitored with intense ophthalmic observation. There is a greater chance of glaucoma detection when patients are studied in such a manner. As more long-term studies are conducted across posterity, the link between Type 2 diabetes and POAG will eventually be verified or refuted due to the fact that detection bias will not be present.
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