Glaucoma Complication of Diabetes – What Are the Risks?

You know the facts about diabetes and its life-changing tasks. You know the health complications that diabetes causes. But you were baffled when you found out that diabetes causes glaucoma! How can diabetes affect your eyes? Well, my friend, I will give you all the facts and statistics to make sure you're not at risk for glaucoma.

Diabetes affects over 16 million Americans and this staggering number is progressively increasing. Did you know that the most common form of diabetes is adult-onset diabetes, or type 2 diabetes? This means that this disease is not inherited from great aunt Mildie.

So what is this deadly life disrupter? Diabetes is a complex disease that happens when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that takes the sugar out of the blood and puts it into cells where it can be used for energy. Diabetics need help in this situation.

Adult-onset diabetes (type 2) usually strikes people who are over 40 years old, who are overweight, who have a sedentary lifestyle, and those of different races such as African, Native American, Japanese, Latino and Polynesian descent are all more at risk for beign diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

So how does this affect my eyes?

The most common complication of diabetes is a diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of mild worsening eyes problems that people with diabetes may develop. People with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop eye complications as other adults who do not have diabetes.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for diabetic patients between the ages of 18-65 years of age. It's been estimated that over 3 million people now have glaucoma, yet only half of that amount actually know that they have it and have been diagnosed. While most people are familiar with the eye disease glaucoma, few are aware of why glaucoma is such a significant threat to sight.

Glaucoma is one of these diseases. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can lead to damage to the eye's optic nerve and even loss of vision. Glaucoma is characterized by increased fluid pressure inside the eye and because it usually does not have early symptoms, glaucoma is often called "the sneak thief of sight," as doctors often call it.

During a diabetic's lifetime, nearly half of the nation's estimated 16 million of them will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy, including glaucoma. As many as 25,000 people go blind annually and this is all caused by diabetes.

What are the risk factors for being diagnosed with glaucoma?

1. Age – those who are older than 75

2. Central corneal thickness less than 555 microns

3. Diabetes

4. Gender – Males are more prone than females

5. Positive family history of glaucoma in a family member

6. Race – Africans are more prone than other races

7. Strong or high eye pressure

In order to ensure the safety of your eyes, you must protect your eyes. Since eye complications are most common with diabetes, it's very important that diabetics get their eyes examined on a regular basis. The National Eye Institute strongly recommends that diabetics get a dilated eye exam at least once a year.