WHY ARE DIABETICS MORE AT RISK FOR GLAUCOMA?

Dr. Jim Martin 11/11/2015

diabetes-bloodsugar-test-1.pngGlaucoma is an eye condition that diabetics are particularly vulnerable to developing. In fact, diabetics are twice as likely to develop the condition as non-diabetics. This fact has intrigued researchers, who have been trying to find the link between the two for decades.

What Causes Glaucoma?

The term glaucoma actually does not refer to a single disease. It is actually a group of diseases that involve damage to the optic nerve due to increasing pressure within the eye.

The interior of the eye is filled with a fluid known as aqueous humor. That fluid can drain out of the eye through a spongy area of tissue known as the trabecular meshwork. If the aqueous humor cannot exit the eye as needed, or too much of the fluid is produced, pressure can build up within the eye. This is when a form of glaucoma can develop.

Ninety percent of glaucoma cases are open-angle. This form of glaucoma comes on very slowly and often goes undetected until it starts to cause vision problems. Diabetics have a higher chance of developing open-angle glaucoma than someone who is not diabetic. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint exactly why, though their work is starting to bring insight

Why Are Diabetics At Such A High Risk?

The exact relationship between diabetes and glaucoma is still a major question. One thing that diabetes and glaucoma have in common, however, is vascular dysregulation.

The body has a sophisticated system for regulating blood flow to certain parts of the body. A healthy system can manage blood flow quite easily. That is not so true in the body of a diabetic. High levels of glucose can do damage to blood vessels, especially at the microscopic level. This can interfere with the body's ability to regulate blood flow. This is known as vascular dysregulation.

Researchers have found that patients with glaucoma often have reduced blood flow to critical parts of the eyes. That decreased blood flow seems to have a relationship to the ability of the aqueous humor's ability to flow out of the eye as it should. While reduced blood flow is not considered the primary cause of glaucoma, it is a major symptom that seems to get worse as the condition progresses.

What Does All This Mean?

There is a link between glaucoma and diabetes. Research continues to shed light on why this relationship exists. But, it is still ongoing and non-conclusive.

The increased risk of developing glaucoma is one reason diabetics need to have routine eye exams. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month and the perfect time to have an exam. Call Broome Optical today.

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