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Eye Health Center

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Eye Problems and Diabetes

Glaucoma and Diabetes continued...

Treatment of open-angle glaucoma -- the most common form of glaucoma -- requires lowering the eye's pressure by increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing the production of the fluid. Medications can accomplish both of these goals.

With open-angle glaucoma, there may be no symptoms of this eye problem at all until the disease is very advanced and there is significant vision loss. In the less common form of this eye problem, symptoms can include headaches, eye aches or pain, blurred vision, watering eyes, halos around lights, and loss of vision.

Treatment of this eye problem in diabetes can include special eye drops, laser procedures, medicine, or surgery. Surgery and laser treatments are directed at improving the eye's aqueous drainage. You can prevent serious eye problems in diabetes problems by getting an annual glaucoma screening from your eye doctor.

People with diabetes are also more likely to get an uncommon type of glaucoma, called neovascular glaucoma. In this form of glaucoma new blood vessels grow on the iris, the colored part of the eye. These blood vessels block the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, raising the eye pressure. It is difficult to treat. One option is laser surgery to reduce the vessels. Doctors are also studying the use of implants to help drain the fluid.


Diabetic Retinopathy

The retina is a group of specialized cells that convert light as it enters though the lens into images. The eye nerve or optic nerve transmits visual information to the brain.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the vascular (blood-vessel related) complications related to diabetes. This diabetes eye problem is due to damage of small vessels and is called a "microvascular complication." Kidney disease and nerve damage due to diabetes are also microvascular complications. Large blood vessel damage (also called macrovascular complications) includes complications like heart disease and stroke.

The microvascular complications have, in numerous studies, been shown to be related to high blood sugar levels. You can reduce your risk of these eye problems in diabetes complications by improving your blood sugar control.

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