Does Diabetes Increase Chances of Getting Glaucoma?

Diabetes refers to a group of metabolic diseases where the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes gradual vision loss. Both diseases are related by the same factors, but there are other differences.

The main cause of diabetes is a high level of blood glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. This causes changes in the eyes. In diabetes, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for regulating sugar levels in body tissues. However, when insulin production decreases or stops completely, sugar levels increase due to the lack of its transportation system within cells. This leads to an increase in pressure inside the eyeball.  

Relationship Between the Two 

Many studies show a relationship between the two, especially in the elderly. Although the evidence is not conclusive, there is some suggestion that diabetes can cause eye problems through the eyeball’s pressure. The pressure inside the eyeball is caused by two factors: intraocular pressure. It is measured using an intraocular pressure gauge, measuring how much fluid or pressure is present inside the eyeball.

The other factor that causes a change in intraocular pressure includes a group of hormones called ciliary body hormones. These hormones are produced by cells located near the front surface of each eye (ciliary body). They help control intraocular pressure by delivering signals to cilia to move them inside and out of the eyes (called a ciliary movement). 


There are two main types of diabetic eye problems: open-angle and closed-angle. Open-angle is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, sometimes resulting in blindness. It occurs when the pressure inside the eyeball increases and damages the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. 


This is a disease that affects both eyes. This problem can progress to blind vision if left untreated over time. Symptoms include: 

  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of central vision (tunnel vision)
  • Headaches due to increased pressure in front of the eyes

The symptoms usually develop slowly over time, although they may occur suddenly without warning. 


Closed-angle is a disease that affects only one eye. It occurs when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye and damages the optic nerve or other structures inside the eye. Symptoms include: 

  • Blind spots 
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness or pain in the affected eye

These symptoms usually develop slowly over time, although they may occur suddenly without warning. 


You can diagnose the eye problem using a combination of tests that measure the pressure inside your eyes. These are called intraocular pressure (IOP) tests.  


With regular eye exams, medications, and diabetes prevention, you can control the eye issue. The goal is to lower your IOP as much as possible. You may need to use eye drops available by prescription only to lower your IOP. These drops work by shrinking the fluid-filled chambers of your eye (called the aqueous humor). They also block a chemical signal that causes the pressure in your eyes to increase when it should be decreasing (called a parasympathetic reflex). 


A diabetic eye problem is a serious disease that can lead to blindness if not treated. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and to have regular eye exams. The eye problem is linked to diabetes and can be controlled with medications.

Diabetes prevention can also protect you from eye problems. It is important to contact a healthcare professional if you experience any symptoms. You can call our experts at MMR Healthcare at (561) 364-8056 for advice.