Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Myths and Misconceptions

My mother called very worried the other day to say “ I am going to go blind from glaucoma.” “What on earth makes you think that?” I replied. “Because I have diabetes,” she said, “ and diabetes causes glaucoma and you know there is no treatment for glaucoma”.

This very real conversation illustrates many of the misconceptions that people have about eye disease. Diabetes can certainly effect the health of the eyes as well as many other organ systems in the body. However, good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the likelihood of adverse effects in the eye. It is also important to know that many of the problems that occur from diabetes are very treatable especially if detected early. So regular dilated eye exams are crucial for maintaining good vision when you are diabetic.

Some studies have implicated diabetes as a risk factor for developing glaucoma, some studies have found having diabetes to be protective against getting glaucoma. The jury is still out when it comes to risk. However, there is no evidence at all that diabetes causes glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease with virtually no symptoms that when left untreated can severely and permanently damage vision. However, glaucoma is absolutely treatable. That is not the same as saying it is preventable or even curable. But when caught early glaucoma can be managed very succesfully often avoiding even small effects on vision. Remember though, since it has no symptoms, early treatment and prevention of vision loss rely on regular eye exams.