If you have diabetes, you may have learned from your doctor or eye doctor that you have an increased risk of developing glaucoma. This is true, but it might leave you wondering why. Read on to learn how these two diseases are connected, how diabetes harms the eyes, and what you can do about it.
Glaucoma and Diabetes
Glaucoma and diabetes often go hand in hand, but that isn't true for all cases. It is possible for someone to have diabetes without ever developing glaucoma, and it's certainly possible for a person to develop glaucoma without diabetes. However, having diabetes does increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Diabetes increases the risk of several ailments or diseases, like heart disease and neuropathy in the extremities; glaucoma is just one of many possible secondary ailments.
How Diabetes Causes Glaucoma
If you've ever heard of neuropathy - the damaging of the nerves in the extremities that leads to a numbness or lack of sensation - then you already have a basic understanding of how diabetes causes glaucoma. Like the nerves in your extremities, diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves within the retina. As a result, the body tries to repair these damaged blood vessels by growing new ones. In some people, this process goes off without a hitch and the body repairs the damage. However, some aren't so lucky, and the replacement blood vessels are abnormal and don't function properly. In these people, glaucoma develops in the eye.
At this point in time, there's no known way of preventing the body from developing flawed replacement blood vessels in the eye. As a result, the only way of preventing diabetes-induced glaucoma is to control the diabetes itself.
Diabetes is simply the body's inability to produce enough insulin to control the amount of sugar in the blood stream. The sugar damages tissue and blood vessels, so the best way to prevent glaucoma is to control the amount of sugar you consume. Switching to a diet that's rich with vegetables and whole grains or a low-carb diet can help to control diabetes.
In addition, work with your doctor to see if there are medications that can help to control your diabetes or to find out if losing weight can help.
If you have diabetes, you should be screened regularly for glaucoma. Once glaucoma has developed, medications can be prescribed to help prevent damage to your eyesight, so make sure to visit an eye doctor, like one from Montgomery Eye Center, regularly.