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Is there a correlation between diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and if you have diabetes or hypertension, you could be at a higher risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 25.8 million Americans suffer from diabetes and the Center for Disease Control says about 1 in 3 Americans have hypertension. A study conducted by a leading research team at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center now shows that these individuals may have an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG), which is the most common form of glaucoma in the country.

During the study, researchers focused on the possible connections between various components of metabolic syndrome — Metabolic syndrome is basically a number of conditions that includes hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels). Approximately one fifth of the U.S. population has metabolic syndrome, and the Kellogg researchers also looked at how each component increased or decreased the risk of glaucoma.

The team concluded that people with diabetes alone had a 35 percent increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma and those with hypertension alone had a 17 percent increased risk. Also, people suffering from both diabetes and hypertension had a 48 percent higher chance of developing OAG.

The symptoms of glaucoma surface later in the progression of the disease, and therefore getting regular eye exams is key is detecting and treating the disease early. Treatment may can include laser surgery or pressure lowering drops. In some cases when those treatments aren’t as effective, doctors can use SLT (SelectiveLaserTrabeculoplasty). Click here to learn more about glaucoma and Milan Eye Center’s treatments.