The Link Between Glaucoma and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

By Dr. Asha Thakur in Eye Care / Ophthalmology

Mar 15 , 2023 | 2 min read


Glaucoma and diabetes are two chronic diseases that are becoming increasingly common in our ageing population. Both of these conditions have been linked to each other, with studies showing that people with diabetes have twice the risk of developing glaucoma than those without diabetes.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a set of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerves responsible for sending visual information from the eye to the brain. This damage is often caused by increased pressure within the eye, which can lead to gradual vision loss and blindness if left untreated. There are several kinds of glaucoma, the most common being open-angle glaucoma, which develops slowly over time and often goes unnoticed until it is in its advanced stages. Age of 40, everyone should check for IOP (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma is also a silent disease.

What is Diabetes?

A chronic disease, diabetes affects how sugar or glucose is processed in the body, which are the main sources of energy for the body's cells. There are two kinds of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type that affects people; it causes the body to become resistant to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. This may lead to high blood sugar, which can cause a range of health problems if left untreated.

The Link Between Glaucoma and Diabetes

Research has shown that diabetic people are more prone to develop glaucoma than those without diabetes. This is because high blood sugar levels may damage blood vessels in the eyes, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This damage can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to become leaky and fragile, leading to increased pressure within the eye and, ultimately, glaucoma.

Additionally, diabetic people are more likely to develop cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens in the eye. It can occur due to high blood sugar levels, which can cause changes in the proteins that make up the lens, leading to cloudiness and reduced vision.

How to Prevent and Manage Glaucoma and Diabetes

Preventing and managing glaucoma and diabetes requires a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Some tips on how to keep your eyes and body healthy are:

  • Get regular eye exams: The best way to prevent and detect glaucoma and other eye conditions is to get regular eye exams. This is essential if one has diabetes, as diabetic people are at a higher risk of developing eye problems.

  • Manage blood sugar levels: Keeping blood sugar levels under control is crucial for preventing diabetic retinopathy and other complications of diabetes. Eating a healthy diet, taking medications regularly and exercising regularly can help reduce the chances of complications.

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help to improve blood flow and reduce pressure within the eyes, which can help to prevent glaucoma. 30 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, on most days of the week is optimal for health.

  • Wear protective eyewear: If you work in a hazardous environment or play sports, wear protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.

  • Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of developing glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, so quitting is essential for maintaining good eye health.


In conclusion, the link between glaucoma and diabetes highlights the importance of managing your overall health and getting regular eye exams. If you have diabetes, it's crucial to control your blood sugar levels to prevent complications such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. By taking steps to protect your eyes and body, you can maintain good vision and overall health well into your golden years.