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The Diabetes-Glaucoma Connection

January 14, 2008

Beulah, ND – More than 5,000 North Dakotans suffer from glaucoma. During "Glaucoma Awareness Month," physicians are warning that many of these cases are directly related to untreated diabetes.

Like the rest of the country, North Dakota has seen an increase in diabetes cases. This disease, in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, contributes to glaucoma, the gradual degeneration of optic nerve cells. Diabetes goes undiagnosed in nearly one-third of the 14.6 million people in the United States who have it, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Physician Aaron Garman with the Coal Country Community Health Center urges North Dakotans to take diabetes seriously.

"All of these problems with diabetes, including glaucoma, creep up on you, and pretty soon you'll have the problem before you have symptoms. And that is where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Keeping blood sugar in check is important to prevent glaucoma, Garman says, but there is also another aspect to diabetes that puts eyesight at risk.

"Probably one of the most important things is watching your blood pressure and making sure your blood pressure stays in that normal range."

Garman encourages every diabetic patient to get a yearly eye examination.

Information about glaucoma is available at

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND