Secondary glaucoma – Can diabetes cause glaucoma? Neovascular glaucoma

This is an aggressive form of secondary angle closure glaucoma. It usually affects individuals with retinal disease, mainly retinal vascular occlusion or uncontrolled diabetic retinopathy. The primary abnormality is represented by the retinal ischemia, which releases angiogenic factors. These factors create new vessels at the anterior chamber, usually at the iris pupillary border and the angle wall. These new vessels are abnormal and fragile and will cause a series of events which will lead to secondary angle closure (drainage system obstruction).

The treatment strategy should aim at the primary abnormality (retinal ischemia) and also at the IOP control. This relatively complex form of glaucoma often requires the combined efforts of glaucoma and retina specialists. Diabetic patients should try to maintain as good control of their disease as possible.


Secondary glaucoma –  Can diabetes cause glaucoma? Neovascular glaucoma Fig. 1

Fig. 1. Neovascular glaucoma: new vessels at the iris pupillary border, angle wall, leading to secondary angle closure – iris adhesions to the drainage system of the eye.


Secondary glaucoma –  Can diabetes cause glaucoma? Neovascular glaucoma Fig. 2

Fig. 2. New vessels at iris pupillary border.


Secondary glaucoma –  Can diabetes cause glaucoma? Neovascular glaucoma Fig. 3

Fig. 3. New vessels at the angle wall leading to secondary angle closure.


World Glaucoma Association

Important message for glaucoma patients

It is important for you to get yourself regularly screened for glaucoma. If you have been diagnosed to have glaucoma, effective treatment options are now available and regular treatment and follow up can help you to preserve your vision for your lifetime, avoiding unnecessary fear of going blind.

You can live happily with glaucoma and enjoy an excellent quality of life, particularly if the disease is detected early and treated in time. Always remember that once you have glaucoma, you will have to be under the care of an eye doctor for the rest of your life.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments may become available for glaucoma in the near future.

World Glaucoma Association