Understanding the connections between glaucoma and other health conditions is crucial because it can help doctors identify patients at higher risk of developing glaucoma or progressive glaucoma.
In addition, addressing underlying health conditions may also help prevent the development or progression of certain subtypes of glaucoma, such as neovascular glaucoma. For instance, controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy, thus substantially reducing the risk of subsequent neovascular glaucoma.
Continue reading to learn more about the connection between glaucoma and other medical conditions.
DiabetesHistorically, studies looking for links between glaucoma and diabetes have produced mixed results. However, more recent research suggests that diabetic patients are at higher risk of developing glaucoma and that the duration of diabetes may also increase the risk of glaucoma.
Researchers think the increased risk might be due to damaged blood vessels in the eyes, stress to cells in the eyes, or degeneration of nerves related to diabetes.
Additionally, diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes that damages the retina’s blood vessels, can lead to a specific type of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can be particularly harmful and often results in vision loss.
Working closely with a primary care physician or endocrinologist to achieve good diabetes control is critical to maintaining eye health and vision.
Cardiovascular Disease and Blood PressureCardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and glaucoma may seem unrelated; however, several studies suggest there may be a connection between them. For example, a review published by the American Heart Association found that high and low blood pressure can increase the risk for glaucoma.
While the exact reason for the link between cardiovascular disease and glaucoma is unclear, some researchers believe it may be related to the blood vessels in the eye since cardiovascular disease and glaucoma involve changes in the blood vessels. Additionally, some medications used to treat cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, like beta-blockers, may affect the blood flow to the eye and may increase the risk of glaucoma in some people.