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Positive Link Between Glaucoma and Type 2 Diabetes - Most Common Form of Both Diseases are Related According to Study

July 14th 2006

Positive Link Between Glaucoma and Type 2 Diabetes - Most Common Form of Both Diseases are Related According to Study

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New research has discovered a link between the most common type of glaucoma and type 2 diabetes.  Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma, is “positively associated” with the most common form of diabetes. 

Dr. Louis Pasquale, M.D. says “The study supports the notion that type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of glaucoma.  While obesity fuels the type 2 diabetes epidemic, it appears that factors unrelated to obesity contribute to the positive association between type 2 diabetes and glaucoma. We were surprised to find this. Our study had a large enough sample to allow us to focus on type-2 diabetes only and to study its relation to newly diagnosed POAG cases. We were also able to correct for other factors that could contribute to glaucoma. Our work suggests, but in now way proves, that factors other than lifestyle behavior contributing to insulin resistance could lead to elevated intraocular pressure and glaucoma."  Pasquale is lead author of the study and co-director of the Glaucoma Service at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) and an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.


The data for this research was extrapolated from the 20-year study of women in the Nurses' Health Study.  They looked at over 76,000 women who were enrolled in the Nurses study.  Eligible participants were at least 40 years old, did not have POAG at the beginning of the study, and reported receiving eye exams during follow-up.

They took into account the woman’s age, race, hypertension, body mass index, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking and family history of glaucoma.  Interestingly the relation between type 2 diabetes and POAG did not increase with longer durations of type-2 diabetes.


POAG affects more than 2 million individuals in the US and is one of the leading causes of blindness.  The researchers expect as the US population ages, the number of individuals affected by the disease will increase to more than 3 million by 2020.

The study is published in the July issue of the journal Ophthalmology.

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Dan Wilson
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