Can diabetes cause glaucoma? People with and without diabetes can have glaucoma, a condition caused by excess fluid that creates pressure on the optic nerve, located at the back of the eye. Whether you have diabetes, glaucoma or both, it is very important to see a glaucoma specialist. Look no further than the experts at Elmquist Eye Group.
How does glaucoma begin?
In the middle chamber of the eye, a small amount of fluid is produced to flow around the eye lens. This fluid normally leaves the eye via a drainage network that drains into the bloodstream.
When glaucoma is present, this drainage system becomes blocked, therefore trapping fluid in the eye. The pressure behind the eye builds up and begins affecting the optic nerve in the back of the eye. Over time, the sustained increased pressure creates nerve damage.
What is the link between glaucoma and diabetes?
People with diabetes often have diabetic retinopathy, characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth in the area of the eye. That vessel growth can often block the eye’s natural drainage system, so people with diabetes are therefore at increased risk of glaucoma. Phrased another way, if retinopathy develops, glaucoma can be a complication of diabetes.
It is important to know, however, that the blockage of the natural drainage system of the eye can occur among people both with and without diabetes.
Symptoms and diagnosis?
In the early stages, glaucoma has very few symptoms. Patients don’t even know anything is wrong. Everyone should have an eye specialist test for glaucoma at least once a year. This becomes even more important if you are a patient with diabetes.
We diagnose glaucoma by measuring eye pressure (the famous air puff test). This test is called the non-contact tonometry test (NCT test). The puff of air is not painful and is directed to the front of your eye. The machine measures your eye’s resistance to the puff of air which gives us details about the pressure inside your eye. We also test your field of vision and check the eye at the optic nerve location for any signs of trouble.
What is the treatment for glaucoma?
At first, we will treat you with eye drops to relieve the pressure in the eye. We use various medications such as beta-blockers, prostaglandins, or drugs called carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and will choose the correct medication for your specific condition.
We can also perform surgeries designed to restore the drainage system function. Surgeries include a laser treatment called laser iridotomy and trabeculectomy surgery.
All treatments are designed to ease the pressure so that your vision does not further deteriorate.
At the later stages of the disease, glaucoma results in poor vision that can spread to affect your entire eyesight. Left untreated, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world today. If you are a patient in southwest Florida and you have a glaucoma or a diabetes diagnosis, regular eye care is extremely important. Don’t wait for your disease to worsen. Come see us at Elmquist Eye Group for treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to minimizing the vision loss that results from glaucoma.