Diabetic Eye Disease: Glaucoma

Diabetic eye disease includes cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. All are complications of diabetes and can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—a good time to focus attention on glaucoma. It is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States affecting almost 3 million people.


Anyone can get glaucoma. However, African Americans over age 40, and those with a family history of the disease have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.


What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that sends electrical impulses for sight to the brain. Normally, clear fluid flows in and out of a small space at the front of the eye and keeps the tissues in the eye healthy. If this fluid drains too slowly, it puts pressure on the optic nerve and can cause glaucoma.

Increased eye pressure alone does not mean you have glaucoma. However, it does mean you are at risk for the disease. A person has glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged.

Symptoms. At first, there are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. But as the disease gets worse, your peripheral (side) vision may

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